What is EBI Metagenomics portal?

Metagenomics is the study of the genomes present in communities of organisms found in environmental samples. Most microbial organisms are not culturable and therefore these communities cannot be studied using traditional laboratory techniques. Metagenomics, a sequencing-based, cultivation-independent approach, can help provide powerful insights into microbial community structure, the processes that the community carries, and the complex interactions that may occur.

Metagenomics is an umbrella term, encapsulating a range of study types that use high-throughput DNA sequencing to characterise microbial systems, including whole-genome shotgun (WGS) sequenced metagenomic and metatranscriptomic studies, as well as amplicon-based approaches, targeting specific marker genes (often rRNA genes). Typically, metagenomic studies involve the analysis of unassembled sequence data, although assembly is becoming more common as the rate of sequencing grows and experimental techniques improve. For example, assembly can be used in an attempt to reconstruct a single dominant microbial genome or to allow full-length genes to be recovered from metagenomic shotgun data.

EBI Metagenomics is a free-to-use resource for archiving, analysing, visualising, discovering and comparing WGS, amplicon and assembly metagenomic and metatranscriptomic datasets (Figure 1).

Figure 1  Homepage of the EBI Metagenomics portal, highlighting the different navigation options.