Environmental metagenomics is the study of organisms in a microbial community based on analyzing the DNA within an environmental sample.
Examples include profiling microbial populations in water samples taken from deep ocean vents or in soil samples from human-made environments like active mineral mines. Environmental metagenomics study data are used for agricultural microbiome analysis, ecological remediation, or other biological investigations.
Environmental metagenomics as a field was extremely limited prior to the advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS). NGS provides researchers the capability to profile entire microbial communities from complex samples, discover new organisms, and explore the dynamic nature of microbial populations under changing conditions.
Common NGS methods for environmental metagenomics studies include: