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Mathematical, statistical and computational aspects of the new science of metagenomics

Participation in INI programmes is by invitation only. Anyone wishing to apply to participate in the associated workshop(s) should use the relevant workshop application form.

24th March 2014 to 17th April 2014
Wally Gilks University of Leeds
Daniel Huson [University of Tübingen], Universität Tübingen
Elisa Loza Rothamsted Research, NHS Blood and Transplant
Simon Tavaré University of Cambridge
Gabriel Valiente Technical University of Catalonia
Tandy Warnow [The University of Texas at Austin], University of Texas at Austin
Wally Gilks
Daniel Huson
Elisa Loza
Simon Tavaré
Gabriel Valiente
Tandy Warnow


Scientific Advisory Committee: Vincent Moulton (East Anglia), Mihai Pop (Maryland)

Programme Theme

MTG programme identifier: colours that can be found in communities of bacteria in the geyser pools in Yellowstone National Park

Metagenomics is the study of the total genomic content of microbial communities. In metagenomic studies, DNA material is sampled collectively from the microorganisms that populate the environment of interest (e.g. agricultural soil, ocean water, or the human gut). The extracted DNA sequences are subsequently used to profile the environment and its biodiversity, its dominant microbial classes or biological functions, and whether and how this profile differs from those of other environments.

The impact of metagenomics in our understanding of the natural world has been, and will continue to be, revolutionary and profound. Insights derived from metagenomic studies have become increasingly relevant in areas as diverse as human health, bioenergy, environmental sciences and paleontology.

This research programme will bring together leading expertise in the multiple disciplines involved in metagenomics including mathematics, computer science, probability and statistics, biomedical research and biology.

The brief of the programme will be to explore the major current analytical and computational open problems in metagenomics, and to identify opportunities for application and development of theory and methods, with an emphasis on synergy between disciplines.

Particular themes will include:

  • Community profiling and comparative metagenomics
  • Assembly of metagenomic data in the context of evolving NGS platforms
  • Community structure and dynamics: beyond taxonomic and functional characterisation
  • Analysis of microbial community transcriptomes, proteomes and metabolomes

These themes provide a rich source of mathematical problems in areas such as probability and statistics theory, dynamic programming, combinatorics and graph theory.

Final Scientific Report: 
University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons