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 ecology., The Advanced Methods series is intended for advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and established research scientists. Titles in the series are designed to cover current important areas of research in life sciences, and include both theoretical background and detailed protocols. The aim is to give researchers sufficient theory, supported by references, to take the given protocols and adapt them to their particular experimental systems. Molecular approaches to microbial ecology mean that in principle the entire range of species in a given sample can be analyzed, in contrast to conventional techniques which rely on cell cultivation, and thereby typically include only about 10% of the species in a sample. Molecular Microbial Ecology provides both a theoretical and a methodological introduction to various key molecular techniques used in microbial ecology, focusing particularly on nucleic acid-based methodologies.
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