CMSC828G: Bioinformatics for Metagenomics CMSC 828G: Bioinformatics for Metagenomics (Fall 2009)

Instructor: Prof. Steven Salzberg, 3125 Biomolecular Sciences Building

Meeting time and place: Tues-Thurs 11:00-12:15, 3118 Biomolecular Sciences Bldg

Course Description
Metagenomics is the new science of directly sequencing DNA from a complex mixture extracted from the environment. Metagenomics projects have targeted the ocean, the soil, and the human body, and these projects are uncovering a wealth of previously unexplored microbial diversity. Metagenomics studies generate large quantities of rich, complex data, and new bioinformatics methods are essential if we are to make sense of this data. This course will focus on the design and development of algorithms and data structures to analyze metagenomics data. This course will include a combination of lectures and readings from the current literature.

In 2007, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report titled "The New Science of Metagenomics: Revealing the Secrets of Our Microbial Planet." That report compared metagenomics to the invention of the microscope in its potential for scientific discovery. It said: "Metagenomics provides a new way of examining the microbial world that not only will transform modern microbiology but has the potential to revolutionize understanding of the entire living world. In metagenomics, the power of genomic analysis is applied to entire communities of microbes, bypassing the need to isolate and culture individual bacterial community members. The new approach and its attendant technologies will bring to light the myriad capabilities of microbial communities that drive the planet’s energy and nutrient cycles, maintain the health of its inhabitants, and shape the evolution of life."

This seminar course will focus on readings from the current literature. Students will read and present materials in class, and will design and execute a metagenomics project of their own by the end of the course.

Here is a preliminary reading list