Statement of Task
The committee will convene a workshop and other appropriate information gathering activities in order to define the scope of metagenomics, understand how it is being used now in various disciplines, the technical approaches being used by different groups, and how metagenomics may develop in the future. The report will frame the key scientific questions that could be addressed using the approach of metagenomics. It will also identify the major academic, governmental and potential commercial stakeholders in the field of metagenomics, both nationally and internationally. It will include findings about obstacles or difficulties current researchers are encountering (e.g., lack of awareness of the field, infrastructural needs, lack of consistency and standardization in data annotation and management). The report will also make recommendations concerning 1) the most promising directions to pursue to advance the field of metagenomics, 2) possible mechanisms for addressing infrastructure needs including the annotation and sharing of data, and 3) improving communication and collaboration between groups applying metagenomic techniques to different microbial communities. The committee will not make budgetary or government organizational recommendations.