Bacteria account for a major proportion of Earth’s biological diversity. They play essential roles in quite diverse environments and there has been an increasing interest in bacterial biodiversity. Research using novel and efficient tools to identify and characterize bacterial communities has been the key for elucidating biological activities with potential for industrial application. The current approach used for defining bacterial species is based on phenotypic and genomic properties. Traditional and novel DNA-based molecular methods are improving our knowledge of bacterial diversity in nature. PCR-based methods investigating 16S rRNA gene sequences, and other approaches, such as the metagenome, have been used to study the physiology and diversity of bacteria and to identify novel genes with potential pharmaceutical and other biotechnological applications.