Until now, researchers could only sequence the genomes of microbes in two ways. They could sequence it directly, which requires growing the organism in a culture to a manageable level, which isn’t always possible, or they could use metagenomics and try and pick out the DNA that belongs to the microbe from the vast amount of genetic material present in an environmental sample. This method only works if the organism is the dominant member of a community. Now, researchers have discovered that with the right computational tools, they can extract individual genomes from the slurry of genetic material in samples, even if the organism hasn’t been grown in a culture.
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