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Department of Molecular Life Sciences

Systems Biology/Metagenomics


Our group studies the genomes of entire microbial communities, based on the new and exciting Metagenomics approach. Metagenomics describes a technique that encompasses the sampling of DNA directly from an environment; the DNA is then shotgun sequenced without prior knowledge of which organisms are actually present. This approach has become necessary because most naturally occurring microbes cannot be grown in the laboratory, which has lead to a situation where our molecular knowledge of microbes is vastly incomplete and quite biased. Only recently, researchers have begun to fill this gap by cultivation-independent molecular techniques such as Metagenomic-sequencing. Our group uses computational approaches to analyze the vast amount of molecular sequence data this produces. We ask questions such as: What types of organisms can be found by such an unbiased approach? What molecular functions do they encode? How can we describe microbial biodiversity, and does it follow the same ecological principles as macroscopic?