Prokaryotes are the most diverse and abundant cellular life forms on Earth. Most of them, identified by indirect molecular approaches, belong to microbial dark matter. The advent of metagenomic and single-cell genomic approaches has highlighted the metabolic capabilities of numerous members of this dark matter through genome reconstruction. Thus, linking functions back to the species has revolutionized our understanding of how ecosystem function is sustained by the microbial world. This review will present discoveries acquired through the illumination of prokaryotic dark matter genomes by these innovative approaches.
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