Microbial Ecology: Where are we now?

Conventional microbiological methods have been readily taken over by newer molecular techniques due to the ease of use, reproducibility, sensitivity and speed of working with nucleic acids. These tools allow high throughput analysis of complex and diverse microbial communities, such as those in soil, freshwater, saltwater, or the microbiota living in collaboration with a host organism (plant, mouse, human, etc). For instance, these methods have been robustly used for characterizing the plant (rhizosphere), animal and human microbiome specifically the complex intestinal microbiota. The human body has been referred to as the Superorganism since microbial genes are more numerous than the number of human genes and are essential to the health of the host. In this review we provide an overview of the Next Generation tools currently available to study microbial ecology, along with their limitations and advantages.

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