There are hundreds of biological resource centers (BRCs) around the world, holding many little-studied microorganisms. The proportion of bacterial strains that is well represented in the sequence and literature databases may be as low as 1%. This body of unexplored diversity represents an untapped source of useful strains and derived products. However, a modicum of phenotypic data is available for almost all the bacterial strains held by BRCs around the world. It is at the phenotypic level that our knowledge of the well-studied strains of bacteria and the many yet to be studied strains intersect. Thus, we might leverage the phenotypic data from the data-poor bacteria with the omics data from the data-rich bacteria, using our knowledge of their evolutionary relationships, to map the metabolic networks of the little-known bacteria. This systems biology—based approach is a new way to explore the diversity harbored in BRCs.
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Vol. 59 • No. 2