How Metagenomics Has Transformed Our Understanding of Bacteriophages in Microbiome Research

Laura K. Inglis, Robert A. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


The microbiome is an essential part of most ecosystems. It was originally studied mostly through culturing but relatively few microbes can be cultured, so much of the microbiome was left unexplored. The emergence of metagenomic sequencing techniques changed that and allowed the study of microbiomes from all sorts of habitats. Metagenomic sequencing also allowed for a more thorough exploration of prophages, viruses that integrate into bacterial genomes, and how they benefit their hosts. One issue with using open-access metagenomic data is that sequences added to databases often have little to no metadata to work with, so finding enough sequences can be difficult. Many metagenomes have been manually curated but this is a time-consuming process and relies heavily on the uploader to be accurate and thorough when filling in metadata fields and the curators to be working with the same ontologies. Using algorithms to automatically sort metagenomes based on either the taxonomic profile or the functional profile may be a viable solution to the issues with manually curated metagenomes, but it requires that the algorithm is trained on carefully curated datasets and using the most informative profile possible in order to minimize errors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1671
Number of pages13
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • bacteriophage
  • metagenomics
  • microbiome


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