More than 99% of identified prokaryotes, including many from the marine environment, cannot be cultured in the laboratory. This lack of capability restricts our knowledge of microbial genetics and community ecology. Metagenomics, the culture-independent cloning of environmental DNAs that are isolated directly from an environmental sample, has already provided a wealth of information about the uncultured microbial world. It has also facilitated the discovery of novel biocatalysts by allowing researchers to probe directly into a huge diversity of enzymes within natural microbial communities. Recent advances in these studies have led to a great interest in recruiting microbial enzymes for the development of environmentally-friendly industry. Although the metagenomics approach has many limitations, it is expected to provide not only scientific insights but also economic benefits, especially in industry. This review highlights the importance of metagenomics in mining microbial lipases, as an example, by using high-throughput techniques. In addition, we discuss challenges in the metagenomics as an important part of bioinformatics analysis in big data.
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