Microoganisms are distributed across every ecosystem, and microbial
transformations are fundamental to the operation of the biosphere.
Microbial ecology is the study of this interaction between
microorganisms and their environment, and arguably represents one
of the most important areas of biological research. Yet for many
years our study of microbial flora was severely limited: the
primary method of culturing microorganisms on media allowed us to
study only between 0.1 and 10% of the total microbial flora in any
given environment. Molecular Microbial Ecology gives a
comprehensive guide to the recent revolution in the study of
microorganisms in the environment. Details are given on molecular
methods for isolating some of the previously uncultured and
numerically dominant microbial groups. PCR-based approaches to
studying prokaryotic systematics are described, including ribosomal
RNA analysis and stable isotope probing. Later chapters cover DNA
hybridisation techniques (including fluorescent in situ
hybridisation), as well as genomic and metagenomic approaches to
microbial ecology. Gathering together some of the world's leading
experts, this book provides an invaluable introduction to the
modern theory and molecular methods used in studying microbial
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