• Open Access

Exploring mixed microbial community functioning: recent advances in metaproteomics

Authors

  • Alma Siggins,

    1. Microbial Ecology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology and Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, Galway), Galway, Ireland
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  • Eoin Gunnigle,

    1. Microbial Ecology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology and Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, Galway), Galway, Ireland
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  • Florence Abram

    Corresponding author
    1. Functional Environmental Microbiology, Department of Microbiology, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, Galway), Galway, Ireland
    • Microbial Ecology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology and Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, Galway), Galway, Ireland
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Correspondence: Florence Abram, Functional Environmental Microbiology, Department of Microbiology, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, Galway), University Road, Galway, Ireland. Tel.: +353 0 91 492390; fax: +353 0 91 494598; e-mail: florence.abram@nuigalway.ie

Abstract

System approaches to elucidate ecosystem functioning constitute an emerging area of research within microbial ecology. Such approaches aim at investigating all levels of biological information (DNA, RNA, proteins and metabolites) to capture the functional interactions occurring in a given ecosystem and track down characteristics that could not be accessed by the study of isolated components. In this context, the study of the proteins collectively expressed by all the microorganisms present within an ecosystem (metaproteomics) is not only crucial but can also provide insights into microbial functionality. Overall, the success of metaproteomics is closely linked to metagenomics, and with the exponential increase in the availability of metagenome sequences, this field of research is starting to experience generation of an overwhelming amount of data, which requires systematic analysis. Metaproteomics has been employed in very diverse environments, and this review discusses the recent advances achieved in the context of human biology, soil, marine and freshwater environments as well as natural and bioengineered systems.

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