The genomic era has provided us with hundreds of complete microbial genome sequences (current estimates as of July 12, 2005, are 266 microbial genomes completed and an additional 730 in progress; see http://www.GenomesOnline.org) (Mongodin et al. 2005a). Collectively, the sequencing of individual genomes and whole communities has enabled the realization of a level of genetic diversity and complexity that was previously unappreciated (Venter et al. 2004; Mongodin et al. 2005b). This is particularly evident when the results of these endeavors are related to the study of physiological processes and metabolic capabilities of both the...

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