Dispersing misconceptions and identifying opportunities for the use of 'omics' in soil microbial ecology

James I. Prosser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Technological advances are enabling the sequencing of environmental DNA and RNA at increasing depth and with decreasing costs. Metagenomic and transcriptomic analysis of soil microbial communities and the assembly of 'population genomes' from soil DNA are therefore now feasible. Although the value of such 'omic' approaches is limited by the associated technical and bioinformatic difficulties, even if these obstacles were eliminated and 'perfect' metagenomes and metatranscriptomes were available, important conceptual challenges remain. This Opinion article considers these conceptual challenges in the context of the current use of omics in soil microbiology, but the main arguments presented are also relevant to the application of omics to marine, freshwater, gut or other environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-446
Number of pages8
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number7
Early online date8 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • ecosystem processes
  • ribosomal-RNA
  • metagenomics
  • communities
  • diversity
  • differentiation
  • limitations
  • metabolism
  • genomics
  • bacteria

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