This is an exciting yet challenging time to be teaching and learning about microbiology. With the horrendous events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent attacks of bioterrorism in the United States, the need to provide accurate and current information about the good and bad microbes seems greater than ever. Almost every day newspaper reports discuss the possibility of another attack using microbial agents or their toxins. Of equal interest, however, are the frequent articles that describe the discovery of microbes in an environment considered impossible to sustain life, the sequencing of another microbial genome, or the death of an individual from a rare infectious disease. Anyone glancing at the front page cannot help but realize the impact that microorganisms have in our daily lives. The announcements of the many scientific advances being made about the micro-bial world often bring with them vehement arguments related to the science. Are plants that contain genes of microorganisms safe to eat? Is it wise to put antimicrobial agents in soaps and animal feed? What are the chances of finding life on Mars? What agents of biological warfare might the citizens of the world face? This book presents what we believe are the most important facts and concepts about the micro-bial world and the important role its members play in our daily lives. With the information presented, students should be able to form reasoned opinions and discuss intelligently their views on these questions.
An important consideration in revising this textbook is the diverse interests among students who take an introductory microbiology course today. As always, many students take microbiology as a prerequisite for nursing, pharmacy, and dental programs. A suitable textbook must provide a solid foundation in health-related aspects of microbiology, including coverage of medically important bacteria, antimicrobial medications, and immunization. An increasing number of students take microbiology as a step in the pursuit of other fields, including biotechnology, food science, and ecology. For these students, topics such as recombinant DNA technologies, fermentation processes, and microbial diversity are essential. With the search for the source of the anthrax preparation used in the bioterrorism attacks in the United States, the subject of techniques of microbial identification become more relevant. Microbiology is also becoming more popular as an elective for biology students, who are particularly interested in topics that highlight the relevance of microorganisms to shaping the biological world. Because of the wide range of career goals and interests of students, we have made a particular effort to broaden the scope of previous editions, providing a more balanced approach, yet retaining our strength in medical microbiology.
Diversity in the student population is manifested not only in the range of career goals, but also in educational backgrounds. For some, microbiology may be their first college-level science course; for others, microbiology builds on an already strong background in biology and chemistry. To address this broad range of student backgrounds, we have incorporated learning aids that will facilitate review for some advanced students, and will be a tremendous support to those who are seeing this material for the first time.
Preparing a textbook that satisfies such a broad range of needs and interests is a daunting task, but also extremely rewarding. We hope you will find that the approach and structure of this edition presents a modern and balanced view of microbiology in our world, acknowledging the profound and essential impact that microbes have on our lives today and their possible roles in our lives tomorrow.
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