Reviewed by Glenn Shipley, Ph.D., MT(ASCP)
by Raina M. Maier, Ian L. Pepper, and Charles P Gerba.
Academic Press, Second Edition, 2008 (First Edition, 2000). 598 pages.
Pub. Date: October 2008
Online Price: $79.95
click image to enlarge (57K)
Environmental Microbiology; From Genomes to Biochemistry
by Eugene L. Madsen.
Blackwell Publishing, 2008 479 pages.
Pub. Date: April 2008
Online Price: $104.95
click image to enlarge (42K)
SCIENCE AND THE MICROBIAL SEA OF LIFE:
TWO RECENT TEXTBOOKS ON ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY
Reviewed by Glenn Shipley, PhD, MT(ASCP)
As interest in ecology and environmental problems has grown
in the past quarter century, microbiology has played an increasingly important
role in providing us with information about the microbial foundations of the
living world around us – not only the small number of pathogenic species, but
also the much larger group of non-pathogens resident in air, water, earth
and ourselves. Developments in environmental microbiology have reached the
point where an enormous amount of current knowledge of the subject can now be
assembled into a textbook suitable for a one semester, upper-division
undergraduate or graduate level university course.
Two recent offerings of such textbooks appeared in 2008 with
the same title: Environmental Microbiology. One is the second
edition of a book originally published by Academic Press in 2000. The other is
a new offering by Blackwell Publishing. But while these two excellent works
cover the same ground and both articulate the key importance of new techniques
in microscopy for this rapidly growing field of study, they are different in very
significant ways - which we hope to make evident in this comparative review.
Environmental Microbiology, by Raina M. Maier, Ian L. Pepper, and Charles P Gerba. Academic Press, SecondEdition, 2008 (First Edition, 2000). 598 pages. ISBN-13: 9780123705198; Pub. Date: October 2008; Online Price: $79.95
The Maier-Pepper-Gerba (MPG) book is written by a panel of scholars
and researchers recruited by the three primary authors, whereas Eugene Madsen is
the sole author of the new Blackwell book appearing under his name. While the
MPG book retained nine of the thirteen original authors of the first edition, in
its second edition five new names appear. Several entirely new chapters have
been added, and virtually all the other chapters have been greatly expanded or
revised. The book is complemented by a second volume of practical laboratory
exercises by several of the same authors, meant as an accompaniment to the
textbook for anyone wanting to use them both for a college lecture course with
a laboratory component.
It is evident that the authors of the second edition of the
MPG text have adopted a rigorously “bottom-up” empirical approach, assembling
all that is currently known on the subject, and basing it closely on published
work and experimentally verified evidence. The book is assembled under eight topical
- basic microbiological concepts (Chapters 1, 2 & 3);
- microbiological environments – earth (soil), air, and water (Chapters 4,
5 & 6);
- methodologies for detecting, enumerating, and identifying microbes
(Chapters 8 through 13);
- microbial interactions with each other and their environment (Chapters
14 through 19);
- pollution and its remediation (Chapters 20 & 21);
- water and foodborne pathogens (Chapters 22 & 23);
- wastewater treatment and disinfection (Chapters 24, 25 & 26);
- urban microbiology (Chapters 27, 28 & 29).
Nearly every page of the text is populated with tables,
information boxes, colorful diagrams, figures and equations, and with the end
of chapter references there is enough material to keep a diligent student
burning the midnight oil for weeks and months. A good example is pictured
click image to enlarge (100K)
Fig 13-19 From Environmental Microbiology 2nd
Edition (Maier-Pepper-Gerba), p 267.