Metagenomics (otherwise known as environmental genomics, ecogenomics, or community genomics) is the study of genetic material recovered directly from environmental samples (e.g., soil). This relatively new field of genetic research focuses on the study of organisms that are not easily cultured in the laboratory and studies of organisms in their natural environment.
Isolation of DNA from paraffin-embedded tissue remains an arduous task for researchers screening hundreds of samples for genetic analysis. Removal of the wax coating encasing the thin layer of tissue and extraction of sufficient intact DNA for use in PCR and qPCR are major obstacles to working with these precious samples.
Environmental researchers face the difficult task of studying microbial communities from remote locations and under extreme conditions. Two major issues facing soil microbiologists are the preservation of the original microbial population during transport and storage and the removal of enzyme inhibitors from DNA and RNA to ensure successful gene expression or genotyping analysis.
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