MicrobesOnline reminds us of how well outnumbered us humans are on a planet populated by an unfathomable number of microorganisms. The website provides access to a huge database of microbial genomes and tools for comparative analysis of genomes, among other things.
The Virtual Institute of Microbial Stress and Survival, based at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, provides MicrobesOnline. Since its beginnings in 2003, the online resource has expanded considerably in terms of the number of genomes and analysis tools available to the public. The website says it has more than 3,000 genomes of various bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms. Some of the useful features for researchers include a comparative genome browser and a search tool for finding out about the roles of certain genes in the metabolites of microbes.
It's no coincidence that the U.S. Department of Energy has funded this effort. Understanding microbes could play a key role in the country's energy future, and many companies have already been using microorganisms in processes to make ethanol and industrial chemicals from renewable sources. And with efforts like the Human Microbiome Project, supported by the National Institutes of Health, we're improving our understanding about how microbes in the human body can impact our health.
- find MicrobesOnline here