The complete maps of thousands of bacterial and viral genomes have been recently defined; however, the rate at which physiological or biochemical functions have been assigned to genes has greatly lagged. In some cases, up to 40 percent of the annotated genes in fully sequenced microbial genomes have no known or predicted function. The principal investigators of the four Functional Genomics Centers developed a joint publication that describes the high-throughput approaches taken by the centers to increase our knowledge of the biochemical functions of hypothetical genes, unknown open reading frames (ORFs) and the functions of noncoding RNAs in annotated genomes of pathogens. High-throughput functional genomics can lead to new therapeutics and better understanding of the next generation of emerging pathogens by rapidly defining new general mechanisms by which organisms cause disease and replicate in host tissues.
Reference: Baric R, Crosson S, Damania B, Miller S, and Rubin E. Next-Generation High-Throughput Functional Annotation of Microbial Genomes. mBio; 4 October 2016; vol. 7 no. 5 e01245-16.