In order to determine the ~99% of bacteria in the environment we do not know about, one approach to overcome this challenge is called metagenomics. The above (amateur) animation tries to illustrate the technique. One area where metagenomics is useful is contaminated land that is unhealthy for human dwelling. However, underneath our feet are untold and unknown bacteria communities that are utilizing the very same toxic material to grow and thrive. Metagenomics is one approach that can help us understand 1) what bacteria are there and 2) how in the world are they able to use this material. This is only the beginning of the metagenomic revolution that will someday (soon) add fuel to the synthetic biology revolution to create super bacteria that can alert us of potential toxic exposure and then begin the cleanup process.
Welcome to the world of Science (not Science Fiction)!
- Can You Sequence Ecology? Metagenomics of Adaptive Diversification (plosbiology.org)
- How do bacteria make decisions? Part 1. (mhrussel.wordpress.com)