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Microbiology For Dummies

Jennifer Stearns, Michael Surette

ISBN: 978-1-118-87126-3 October 2014 384 Pages


Microbiology is the study of life itself, down to the smallest particle

Microbiology is a fascinating field that explores life down to the tiniest level. Did you know that your body contains more bacteria cells than human cells? It's true. Microbes are essential to our everyday lives, from the food we eat to the very internal systems that keep us alive. These microbes include bacteria, algae, fungi, viruses, and nematodes. Without microbes, life on Earth would not survive. It's amazing to think that all life is so dependent on these microscopic creatures, but their impact on our future is even more astonishing. Microbes are the tools that allow us to engineer hardier crops, create better medicines, and fuel our technology in sustainable ways. Microbes may just help us save the world.

Microbiology For Dummies is your guide to understanding the fundamentals of this enormously-encompassing field. Whether your career plans include microbiology or another science or health specialty, you need to understand life at the cellular level before you can understand anything on the macro scale.

  • Explore the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
  • Understand the basics of cell function and metabolism
  • Discover the differences between pathogenic and symbiotic relationships
  • Study the mechanisms that keep different organisms active and alive

You need to know how cells work, how they get nutrients, and how they die. You need to know the effects different microbes have on different systems, and how certain microbes are integral to ecosystem health. Microbes are literally the foundation of all life, and they are everywhere. Microbiology For Dummies will help you understand them, appreciate them, and use them.

Introduction 1

Part I: Getting Started with Microbiology 5

Chapter 1: Microbiology and You 7

Chapter 2: Microbiology: The Young Science 11

Chapter 3: Microbes: They’re Everywhere and They Can Do Everything 21

Part II: Balancing the Dynamics of Microbial Life 29

Chapter 4: Understanding Cell Structure and Function 31

Chapter 5: Making Sense of Metabolism 49

Chapter 6: Getting the Gist of Microbial Genetics 67

Chapter 7: Measuring Microbial Growth 89

Part III: Sorting Out Microbial Diversity 105

Chapter 8: Appreciating Microbial Ancestry 107

Chapter 9: Harnessing Energy, Fixing Carbon 121

Chapter 10: Comparing Respiration and Fermentation 141

Chapter 11: Uncovering a Variety of Habitats 157

Part IV: Meeting the Microbes 179

Chapter 12: Meet the Prokaryotes 181

Chapter 13: Say Hello to the Eukaryotes 199

Chapter 14: Examining the Vastness of Viruses 219

Part V: Seeing the Impact of Microbes 237

Chapter 15: Understanding Microbes in Human Health and Disease 239

Chapter 16: Putting Microbes to Work: Biotechnology 261

Chapter 17: Fighting Microbial Diseases 283

Part VI: New Frontiers in Microbiology 299

Chapter 18: Teasing Apart Communities 301

Chapter 19: Synthesizing Life 313

Part VII: The Part of Tens 325

Chapter 20: Ten (Or So) Diseases Caused by Microbes 327

Chapter 21: Ten Great Uses for Microbes 335

Chapter 22: Ten Great Uses for Microbiology 341

Index 349