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A Field Guide to Bacteria (Comstock Book) Paperback – April 3, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This isn't a book on how to avoid E.coli and other nefarious bacteria that invade our food and homes, but an amateur naturalist's guide to all sorts of bacteria that can be seen (and smelled) without a microscope, from their habitats (hot springs, marine mud flats, even urban areas), to how to recognize and identify them in all their remarkable diversity. After all, the author reminds us, bacteria are "the most predominant organisms on Earth," and she even recommends taking a "bacteriocentric" point of view in order to understand them. All the major groupings are covered, along with information on how to culture bacteria, use a microscope and practice good safety precautions. More than 100 color illustrations will assist the happy bacteria hunter as well.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Despite being the most abundant and diverse organisms on Earth, bacteria are easily overlooked, cryptic, and challenging to identify. . . . To open the door to simple study and appreciation of bacteria, Dyer describes macroscopic attributes that allow the field identification of nearly every major group. . . . The book includes ideas for field trips to explore bacterial assemblages in their natural environments (from hot springs to kitchens, urban settings to tropical forests)."―Science, July 18, 2003

"This isn't a book on how to avoid E. coli and other nefarious bacteria that invade our food and homes, but an amateur naturalist's guide to all sorts of bacteria that can be seen (and smelled) without a microscope, from their habitats (hot springs, marine mud flats, even urban areas), to how to recognize and identify them in all their remarkable diversity. After all, the author reminds us, bacteria are 'the most predominant organisms on Earth,' and she even recommends taking a 'bacteriocentric' point of view in order to understand them. All the major groupings are covered, along with information on how to culture bacteria, use a microscope, and practice good safety precautions. More than 100 color illustrations will assist the happy bacteria hunter as well."―Publishers Weekly, 2003

"A wonderful addition to any amateur naturalist's library. It is a witty and comprehensive look at a neglected subject by someone who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the material. . . . I can recommend this book without hesitation to amateur naturalists, educators, and parents as a key to unlocking the door to better understanding the world around them."―Jerry W. Kram, Society of Amateur Scientists E-Bulletin, July 25 2003

"In writing this Field Guide, Dyer (Wheaton College) has done such an excellent job that even an amateur naturalist will find it interesting and adaptable. . . . It is potentially a wonderful resource for those who are interested in studying bacterial ecology―amateur naturalists, biology teachers, or even professional microbiologists, and should find a lasting home in the collections of all of them. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels."―A.M. Dhople, Florida Institute of Technology, Choice, 41:4, Dec. 2003

"This is an interesting book that aims to introduce bacteria in the field to serious amateur naturalists, biology teachers at all levels, and even some professional biologists who may appreciate the accessibility it afford to these otherwise obscure organisms."―Ecology 84:11, November 2003

"Since bacteria themselves are generally not able to be seen without the aid of a strong microscope, the aim of this book is to help identify the presence of certain bacteria by macroscopic field marks―characteristics that can be seen, smelled, touched, or heard. The guide is written for amateur naturalists who may or may not have access to a microscope and covers all the major taxonomic groups of bacteria in an accessible manner."―E-Streams 6:12, December 2003

"Bacteria are a driving force in global ecology, human physiology, earth history, evolution, and environmental issues. A Field Guide to Bacteria brings current thought about bacteria into everyday concepts of life."―Douglas Zook, Boston University"Bacteria are very important in human lives and in natural and engineered environments where they mediate extremely important processes from disease to nutrient cycling. The challenge is that bacteria are so small that they are not readily observed except with a very powerful microscope. Betsey Dexter Dyer's focus on 'field marks' provides a practical way to observe bacteria on a macroscopic scale or to see the manifestations of their activities."―James Staley, University of Washington
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Product Details

  • Series: Comstock Book
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Comstock Publishing Associates; 1 edition (April 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801488540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801488542
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Betsey Dexter Dyer has written a book in "A Field Guide to Bacteria" that, once it is opened, you wonder why no one has written before. The premise is so obvious that it seems to have been totally overlooked! Location, visual appearance, activity, smell and other characteristics that do not always require a high-powered microscope can be used to identify bacterial colonies! Fortunately the "wait" for such a book (which, until now, we probably did not even know we needed) has been worth it because Dyer has done an excellent job of writing it! In this book she introduces the reader to the teaming microflora of bacteria of earth in a way that cannot help but increase the number of people who appreciate these invisible true owners of the planet.
The huge bacterial flora is well covered and the author's grasp of the multitudinous habitats where bacteria live and thrive, sometimes under the most extreme conditions, is impressive. Everything from sulfur bacteria, halophytes and causes of desert varnish to internal symbionts and more are covered in fascinating detail. Dyer has opened up a whole new way of looking at the world that give us a more accurate view of the pervasiveness of the tiny. Not all bacteria are out to get us by any means and this book provides a much needed balance to the "killer bacteria" usually featured in popular literature.
A necessary book for amateur and even professional microbiologists, it will also, I think, provide a good read for anyone interested in the natural world as it really is.
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Format: Paperback
This fun and informative book starts with the brilliant idea of identifying bacteria by their MACROscopic field marks (colors, smells, effects) rather than by microscope. You would never believe how many bacteria one can identify by "field marks" alone, and readers will be surprised at how much fun the identification and discussion of bacteria can be. The author's execution of the guide -- her excellent and enthusiastic writing style and her choices of which bacteria to discuss -- makes this the rare field guide that one can read from cover to cover. The book discusses everything from bacteria in hot springs to those that make cheese or pickles, to those in animal intestines. There are beautiful (yes, beautiful) color plates, great suggested experiments, and guides to finding different kinds of bacteria. The author makes the subject interesting, funny and captivating -- and she uses exclamation points without irony! All in all an excellent book -- don't be scared off by the title; any nature- or science-lover you know will thoroughly enjoy it.
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Format: Paperback
While this book is intended for the general public, and is certainly accessible to those without microbiological training, don't pass it up even if you have microbiological training -- in many ways it is a condensed version of Balows' _The Prokaryotes_, and likewise quite useful for reminding oneself what obscure groups of bacteria do "for a living".
Of course, Dyer's book is a lighter, more amusing read than Balows', and chock full of the sort of anecdote that is fun to slip into a lecture -- such as the explanation of Charles Dickens' cryptic reference to a "bad lobster in a dark cellar" in _The Christmas Carol_, and the fact that the oddly named cyanobacterium _Nostoc_ was named by the alchemist Paracelsus!
In addition, I was pleasantly surprised that despite identifying herself on the very first page as a former student of Lynn Margulis, Dyer doesn't try to defend her mentor's continued rejection of the discoveries of molecular phylogeny, but even goes so far as to praise Woese and Sogin by name! It is refreshing to finally see a work of popular science that acknowledges how the pioneers of molecular phylogeny have changed microbiology over the last couple decades.
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Where else can you learn why dead fish glow in the dark! Wonderful. Good attention given to my favorite bacteria and the great-grand parent of us all, cyanobacteria. I've seen some of those huge Canadian stromatolites. I also enjoyed the discussion on how bacteria played an important role in the formation of the great iron ore deposits in Michigan and Canada, and why, now that they are largely gone, they will not be easily replaced. And there is so much more...
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Very helpful with regard to bacteria study in the field. I Like how there is a section describing the most important environments to look at and also on microscopy. This book has filled in much of the unwritten knowledge about field bacteriology. I highly recommend this book to any one with an interest in this field.
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I bought this for my budding scientist/physician. She's 12 and enjoys reading all things science related. She was looking for a book that had a lot of pictures of bacteria so that she could compare microscope slides/agar plates to the pictures. This book was a disappointment to her because it didn't have enough pictures with the information. I will keep looking for one that shows pictures and has information. Perhaps a college textbook?
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This is a good book for those who want more information regarding deadly infections. My Mother got MRSA in the hospital, and it ate her flesh and her arms turned black where they had IVs. My Mother died, and I felt terrible that I was not more knowledgeable regarding medications, infections, and natural remedies. For the past 5 years, since my Mother died, I study infections, because my Father also got colonized with MRSA in his nose from a hospital. My Father is a miracle, because he almost died from sepsis. It has taken two years, and he is now trying to exercise everyday. I am into research, prevention, and ways to build the immune system, because of what has happened within my family. I will do everything within my power to try to help my family and others. There is so much we need to learn about bacteria, viruses, and fungus, if we want to protect our families. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of germs, so they can protect those they love.
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