Your body hosts as many bacterial cells as it does your own cells and microbial communities are the dominant life form on our planet. Genomics and bioinformatics can unlock this hidden world and explore the diversity, composition and functional capacity of these communities. Studying microbial communities, also referred to as metagenomics, is of fundamental interest for understanding the biosphere. In addition this offers great promise for utilising the most numerous organisms on the planet to improve our own quality of life.

Metagenomics is a relatively new field that studies the presence of microorganisms in a sample (for example in faecal, skin, water or soil samples), and interactions between the microorganisms. Genetic material is isolated from the samples and used to determine the presence and to quantify the amount of microorganisms. Increased realisation of the importance of microorganisms and the microbiome comes at a time when the next gen sequencing techniques that enable the investigation of metagenomic communities have become both easier and cheaper. The recent explosion in the number and diversity of metagenomics studies has put the challenges that these studies present as compared with genome-based analysis of single organisms sharply into focus. This poses the question: How can you set up a successful workflow for metagenomic studies in your lab and analyse metagenome data with freely accessible online tools?


Powered by a three-way collaboration between the Center for Bioscience and Diagnostics of the Leiden University of Applied Sciences, Generade and BaseClear, this hands-on workshop will take place in Leiden on November 27-28, 2017. In this workshop, a general background to metagenomics will be provided. The workflow of sample preparation, DNA isolation, selection of sequencing technology, read mapping, annotation and metagenome assembly will be covered. Both 16S and metagenome analyses will be discussed. During the course, attention is paid to taxonomic classification, quantification of microbial communities and species richness (so-called alpha diversity). In addition, functional properties of the microorganisms in the samples are reviewed by adding annotations and via metabolic pathway reconstruction. Finally, pipelines for data analysis and presentation of the data are discussed. Hands-on data analysis is an important part of the workshop: during practical sessions, you will get to analyse both 16S and metagenome data sets.

The workshop is aimed at laboratory professionals who are involved in metagenomics research but who have limited experience with the relevant techniques or who are outsourcing their metagenomic analysis. If you want to read more or register for this workshop, please visit

Maria Plug –  Hogeschool Leiden

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