A new study published online Oct. 11, 2023 in Nature highlights the vast array of functional diversity of microbes through a novel approach to better understand microbial communities by looking at protein function within them. The work was led by a team of scientists at the DOE Joint Genome Institute under the direction of Nikos Kyrpides, head of the JGI’s Microbiome Data Science group. Their focus sharpened on deciphering protein functional diversity: the novel protein families and novel functions in as-yet unveiled microbes. Harnessing the collective power of more than 26,000 microbiome datasets, all accessible through the publicly available Integrated Microbial Genomes & Microbiomes (IMG/M) database, they successfully crafted the Novel Metagenome Protein Families (NMPF) Catalog.
Other JGI authors on the paper are Antonio Camargo, Simon Roux, Lee Call, Natalia N. Ivanova, I-Min Chen, and Axel Visel. The computational power to perform this level of analysis hinged on access to the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, another user facility at Berkeley Lab.