Functional metagenomic appears to be totally complementary to the conventional Shotgun metagenomics approach that uses only metagenomics high throughput sequencing to access the biodiversity of an ecosystem. Two studies (see Publications) have used this means to explore functionalities of the human intestinal microbiota. The first driven by INSA (Toulouse) has led to identification of new catalytic modules present in abundance in the intestinal microbiota. These modules permit to degrade complex substrate including dietary fiber.
"Here, it was applied to identify highly prevalent genes encoding enzymes that are involved in the catabolism of the dietary fibers by the human gut microbiome, and provided new insights into the gastro-intestinal tract functional trophic chain." Tasse et al.
The second study conducted at INRA (Jouy en Josas) has allowed to identify new functions involved in crosstalk between the human intestinal cells and the intestinal microbiota. Understanding this crosstalk is the key to better understanding inflammatory bowel disease for example.
"We suggest that they are likely to help identify genes that human-associated microbes may use to affect expression of genes and pathways of their host and thus open avenues towards , the development of potentially new probiotics or therapeutic molecules." Lakhdari et al.
- Functional metagenomics to mine the human gut microbiome for dietary fiber catabolic enzymes. Lena Tasse, Juliette Bercovici, Sandra Pizzut-Serin, Patrick Robe, Julien Tap, Christophe Klopp, Brandi L. Cantarel, Pedro M. Coutinho, Bernard Henrissat, Marion Leclerc, Joël Doré, Pierre Monsan, Magali Remaud-Simeon and Gabrielle Potocki-Veronese. Genome Research. 2010. (In Press)
- Functional metagenomics : a high throughput screening method to decipher microbiota-driven NF-kB modulation in the human gut. Lakhdari O, Cultrone A, Tap J, Gloux K, Bernard F, Ehrlich SD, Lefevre F, Dore J, Blottière HM. PLoS ONE. 2010. </li> </ol>