Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Book / chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/21/2008
Publication Date: 2/15/2008
Citation: Manter, D.K. 2008. Manual of Environmental Microbiology. Soil Science Society of America Journal 72:566. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The field of environmental microbiology has made tremendous strides since the original microscopic observations of Antony van Leeuwenhock in 1677. The Manual of Environmental Microbiology, 3rd edition embraces these technological advances and is perhaps the most comprehensive and informative book spanning the entire field of environmental microbiolgy. This book is a wealth of information split into eight sections comprised of an (i) Introduction to Environmental Microbiology, (ii) General Methodolgy, (iii) Water Microbiology in Public Health, (iv) Aquatic Environments, (v) Soil, Rhizosphere, and Phyllosphere, (vi) Subsurface and Landfills, (vii) Aerobiology, and (viii) Biotransformation and Biodegradation. Within each section is a variety of introductory, methodological, ecological, and biological chapters written by different scientists who are experts in their field. Despite its scientific nature, this book is easy to read, although it will be most appreciated by readers at the undergraduate level, or beyond, who have some knowledge of microbiology and biochemistry. Even though the book is presented in a very scientific manner, it reads surprisingly easy, although the reader should have some knowledge of microbiology and biochemistry. Although the comprehensiveness of this book is to be commended, it’s division into separate sections covering the detection, quantification, and role of microbes in different strata does lead to some redundancy. However, depending upon a reader’s area of interest this may be beneficial as attention can be easily directed to appropriate sections without the need to examine each section in its entirety. For example, section I (Introduction) gives us a brief sense of the amazing diversity and function of microbes, which are constantly changing and influencing their environments through a variety of chemical and physical processes. Section II (General Methodology) covers microbial assessment and identification techniques, sampling strategies, common problems and errors, and troubleshooting strategies to perform accurate and detailed microbial assessments using a variety of techniques including traditional cultivation methods to more complex biochemical and molecular based methods. Each of the remaining sections (III-XIII) builds on these general techniques and concepts to more thoroughly examine microbial detection, processes and function, current research questions, and possible future directions of microbial research in a variety of contexts (e.g., public health and biodegradation) in both aqueous and terrestrial environments. As a final note, the completeness of this book both in terms of subject areas and microbial taxa (e.g., bacteria, fungi, protests, archaebacteria, viruses, etc.) discussed is unmatched by any other book concerned with understanding the diversity and function of microbes in the environment, making it an indispensable reference for readers interested in microbes from virtually any scientific discipline.