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Molecular Microbial Ecology: Land of the One-Eyed King


Studies of microbial biodiversity have made astounding discoveries of
late due to the use of methodologies based on phylogenetic analyses of
small subunit ribosomal RNA sequences. Although there are limitations to
these methods, they can nonetheless be very useful if these limitations
are kept in mind. These limitations range from technical problems such
as obtaining representative genomic DNA and suitable primers, to
conceptual problems such as defining and using meaningful taxonomic
units of diversity (species). Here we discuss several of the limitations
inherent in studies of microbial diversity that must be considered when
interpreting the results obtained using these approaches.