A sample of water, soil or gut contents will contain a whole community of microbes, cooperating and competing. We now have the sequencing technology to begin to explore these communities, to find out the variation that they possess. This can be useful in the search for new anti-microbials, or in the search for better enzymes for biofuels. However, the sequencing technology is not quite there yet. The very short length of the reads, together with the errors introduced, combine to make the problem of reassembling the underlying genomes much more complex.
We introduce the concept of the 'metahaplome': the exact sequence of DNA bases (or "haplotype") that constitutes the genes and genomes of every individual present. We also present a data structure and algorithm that will recover the haplotypes in the metahaplome, and rank them according to likelihood.
Our preprint about the metahaplome is now available at bioRxiv:
Probabilistic Recovery Of Cryptic Haplotypes From Metagenomic Data.