Monday, October 12, 2009

Windshield splatter analysis

Metagenomic analysis is a recent tool used to investigate the microbial diversity of various environments by direct sampling of potentially unculturable organisms. In a paper in this week's 'Genome Research' journal, Sergei Kosakovsky Pond, describe how they used the technique to identify insect diversity:
Windshield splatter analysis with the Galaxy metagenomic pipeline

How many species inhabit our immediate surroundings? A straightforward collection technique suitable for answering this question is known to anyone who has ever driven a car at highway speeds. The windshield of a moving vehicle is subjected to numerous insect strikes and can be used as a collection device for representative sampling. Unfortunately the analysis of biological material collected in that manner, as with most metagenomic studies, proves to be rather demanding due to the large number of required tools and considerable computational infrastructure. In this study, we use organic matter collected by a moving vehicle to design and test a comprehensive pipeline for phylogenetic profiling of metagenomic samples that includes all steps from processing and quality control of data generated by next-generation sequencing technologies to statistical analyses and data visualization.

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