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Open Access

Microbial reference genomes for human metagenomics

  • Sarah K Highlander1
Genome Biology201112(Suppl 1):I7

Published: 19 September 2011

A key resource for metagenomics projects is a representative catalog of annotated microbial genome sequences to serve as a reference for classification and functional annotation [1]. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) [2], which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, began with the goal of sequencing 600 genomes from culturable prokaryotes that are representative of those inhabiting the major niches within and on the human body. This effort has been expanded to include uncultured organisms, small eukaryotes, and viruses that infect prokaryotes or eukaryotes, and the current sequencing target is 3,000 microbes. An automated pipeline for prokaryotic gene calling and annotation has been established for the project, yet very few of the HMP organisms have been subjected to in-depth analysis. Comparisons of several HMP genomes have revealed substantial intraspecies differences and provide clues about the pathogenic and physiological potential of these organisms.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA


  1. Human Microbiome Jumpstart Reference Strains Consortium, Nelson KE, Weinstock GM, Highlander SK, Worley KC, Creasy HH, Wortman JR, Rusch DB, Mitreva M, Sodergren E, Chinwalla AT, Feldgarden M, Gevers D, Haas BJ, Madupu R, Ward DV, Birren BW, Gibbs RA, Methe B, Petrosino JF, Strausberg RL, et al.: A catalog of reference genomes from the human microbiome.Science 2010, 328:994–999.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. Data Analysis and Coordination Center for the Human Microbiome Project []


© BioMed Central Ltd 2011