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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 958719, 15 pages
Review Article

Microbial Diversity in the Era of Omic Technologies

Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Management, University of Patras, 2 Seferi Street, 30100 Agrinio, Greece

Received 30 April 2013; Revised 26 August 2013; Accepted 26 August 2013

Academic Editor: Dimitrios Karpouzas

Copyright © 2013 Sofia Nikolaki and George Tsiamis. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Human life and activity depends on microorganisms, as they are responsible for providing basic elements of life. Although microbes have such a key role in sustaining basic functions for all living organisms, very little is known about their biology since only a small fraction (average 1%) can be cultured under laboratory conditions. This is even more evident when considering that >88% of all bacterial isolates belong to four bacterial phyla, the Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. Advanced technologies, developed in the last years, promise to revolutionise the way that we characterize, identify, and study microbial communities. In this review, we present the most advanced tools that microbial ecologists can use for the study of microbial communities. Innovative microbial ecological DNA microarrays such as PhyloChip and GeoChip that have been developed for investigating the composition and function of microbial communities are presented, along with an overview of the next generation sequencing technologies. Finally, the Single Cell Genomics approach, which can be used for obtaining genomes from uncultured phyla, is outlined. This tool enables the amplification and sequencing of DNA from single cells obtained directly from environmental samples and is promising to revolutionise microbiology.