Microbial ecologists can now start digging into the accumulating mountains of metagenomic data to uncover the occurrence of functional genes and their correlations to microbial community members. Limitations and biases in DNA extraction and sequencing technologies impact sequence distributions, and therefore, have to be considered. However, when comparing metagenomes from widely differing environments, these fluctuations have a relatively minor role in microbial community discrimination. As a consequence, any functional gene or species distribution pattern can be compared among metagenomes originating from various environments and projects. In particular, global comparisons would help to define ecosystem specificities, such as involvement and response to climate change (for example, carbon and nitrogen cycle), human health risks (eg, presence of pathogen species, toxin genes and viruses) and biodegradation capacities.