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A Field Guide to Bacteria

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  8 reviews
"Although most people are aware that bacteria are all around us, few would guess that they produce such distinctive and accessible signs. Whether you're walking on the beach, visiting a zoo or aquarium, buying groceries, looking for fossils, drinking beer, traipsing through a swamp, or cleaning scum from beneath a dripping outdoor faucet, you're surrounded by bacterial ...more
Paperback, 366 pages
Published May 15th 2003 by Comstock Publishing (first published 2003)
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Nick Black
the title is literal -- this is essentially a how-to manual for finding, agitating, culturing, and acquiring samples of various types of bacteria, including macroscopic indicators, (microscope) slide preparation, and safety procedures. each chapter succinctly introduces a type of bacteria, presents its metabolism and physical forms, and provides hypotheses regarding phylogeny/evolution and ecologic role. the writeups were interesting, but too short to be considered a real textbook on ...more
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As soon as I first saw this book, I said "That's the best idea ever!" and indeed, reading it has not disappointed me. It's a guide, organized by type of bacteria, to how to recognize their presence around you by macroscopic signs such as colors, slimes, and especially smells. The author is an excellent writer (I also recommend her Tracing the History of Eukaryotic Cells: The Enigmatic Smile ), and this book is just plain entertaining to read from cover to cover. I'll never see my stinky ...more
Eric Bingham
Apr 11, 2011 rated it liked it
This book wasn't quite what I thought it would be, but it was still very interesting, (if a little dry in some parts.) I have come to see bacteria all around me since I finished it, and my wife could not understand why I was so excited when I dug up my pea plants and found, you guessed it, bacterial nodules in the roots! I definitely recommend reading this book to anyone who is planning on making a trip to somewhere that bacteria run rampant (such as Yellowstone National Park or a marsh.) Even ...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is the kind of book you read slowly, to digest the information, so to speak. The chapter about gram positive bacteria, food and drink,s and symbiotic bacteria assist with food digesting were the most interesting chapters, Chocolate, vanilla, tea and coffee have all been fermented and in Indonesia luwak beans (a variety of coffee) are fermented in the gut of civet cats, proving I guess that people will do anything for a good cup of coffee. Dyer made this the information in this guide ...more
Oct 31, 2012 marked it as reference
Shelves: nature
Still reading, but some surprisingly humorous quotes are to be found in this book.

Surely the source of iron tools used by dwarves, for example, would have been bacterial bog iron.


Culturing hyperthermophiles involves maintaining boiling or near-boiling conditions in a complex medium, devoid of oxygen. This is not a simple amateur activity.

Also learned this astounding fact: There are estimated to be 5x10^30 bacterial cells on Earth! That's


Yates Buckley
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: curious, technical
The book has you looking around the world to find different kinds of bacteria. Some instructions given on how you can collect samples and even culture some of the species.

I find the book mind changing because I didn’t notice how prevalent bacteria is, and just how visible and how chemically influential.

The actual reading is a bit hard, sometimes slow, sometimes exciting, partly because the book is systematic in going through step by step. Good for later consultation but a bit of a drag while
Kirsten Frank
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The beginning was full of places you can't collect, like Yellowstone National Park. Later, it is easier to imagine yourself finding these field signs.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: yellowstone tour guides
Great pictures. I wish I was nerd enough to understand and pronounce it all. I appreciate the author who gave me a copy on her coachride out. I'd walk the basin with her any day.
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