efforts to promote research, infrastructure development, education and outreach.”1 The 12 members of the Microbe Project are the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Interior US Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation. These twelve agencies along with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are the federal agencies that because of their missions or responsibilities have benefited from genome-enabled microbiology and would be expected to benefit further from the advances of metagenomics. The Microbe Project’s mission makes it ideally suited to convene the necessary working groups to advise on the specifics of the infrastructure needed to enable the science of metagenomics and to articulate a plan that coordinates responsibilities and funding to maximize efficiencies and capture the expected synergies in this new field. Several of the agencies have already funded metagenomics projects, some of which have become models that reveal the promise of the field. Each of the 14 agencies mentioned has its own missions and interests, but much synergy is to be gained by pooling common infrastructure needs, and this is a strong motivator for a well-coordinated effort at the federal level. The Microbe Project should coordinate its work with the scientific societies to involve the scientific community in the development of the field.
Other organizations are and will be interested in funding metagenomics, including foundations with national or international interests, the private sector, and some state agencies. Large projects can have several partners that contribute on large or small scales for targeted components or for general core funding. It is possible to imagine metagenomics projects supported by several countries, funding agencies, and private foundations. Mechanisms will have to be worked out to ensure proper representation and credit while avoiding hindrances of the general goal of work for the public good.
The large-scale nature of metagenomics and the international interest in the field suggest that there will be interest in and value to be derived from international coordination from the beginning. Some metagenomics projects are under way in the European Community, Canada, China, Brazil, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan. Many of the projects have interest in