100 Years of Bacillus thuringiensis: A Critical Scientific Assessment, 2002

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Prepared by Eugene Nester, Ph.D., Linda S. Thomashow, Ph.D., Matthew Metz, Ph.D., and Milton Gordon, Ph.D.

Presents the case of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and its use in agriculture. Compares genetic modification of crops to alternatives and addresses the current controversy, positive outcomes, and potential risks associated with transgenic plants. Makes specific recommendations for future research, evaluation and environmental monitoring, scientific coordination, and public education.

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Antibiotic Resistance: An Ecological Perspective on an Old Problem, September 2009

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According to the report, it is possible to co-exist with resistance by- developing new strategies to prevent resistance from spreading and, where it already exists, identify the strains we need to protect against; find new ways to treat resistance infections effectively in patients; and manage reservoirs of antibiotic strains in the environment. The report summarizes the current scientific understanding of antibiotic resistance, the scope of the problem, and methods at our disposal for detecting emergence and preventing spread. The knowledge gaps about the prevalence of resistant strains and resistant infections are highlighted as are the unique problems and challenges in developing countries.








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Antimicrobial Resistance: An Ecological Perspective, 2002

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Synthesizes conclusions reached by working groups at 1999 colloquium. Takes a broad view of the problem of increasing resistance to antimicrobials and its consequences for human, animal, and environmental health. Provides an overview of the current situation and offers specific recommendations for scientific research, surveillance programs, and education effor


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Bioinformatics and Biodefense: Keys to Understanding Natural & Altered Pathogens, May 2009

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Prepared by Merry Buckley, Thomas Slezak, and Thomas Brettin.

Bioinformatics, the application of computer analysis to molecular biology, is a fundamental corollary to biodefense research. As we face new security threats involving pathogens and infectious disease, bioinformatics databases must be improved and a plan must be made for integrating biodefense research throughout the world. This report outlines the recommendations made by the world's leaders in bioinformatics at a colloquium held in Baltimore.

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Bioterrorism Threats to Our Future, 2001 (Available online only)

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Prepared by James W. Snyder and William Check.

The Academy joined with the American College of Microbiology to examine the central roles of professional microbiologists and clinicians in recognizing the occurrence of possible bioterrorism events. Issues of medical laboratory and practitioner training, emergency preparedness plans, public education, collaboration, and communication across health care and law enforcement agencies from the local to the federal level are discussed.

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Bringing the Lab to the Patient: Developing Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Resource Limited Settings, 2012

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Easy-to-use, inexpensive point-of-care tests (POCTs) to diagnose infectious diseases are urgently needed in resource-limited settings where laboratory capacity is limited. Development and implementation of new POCTs requires coordinated efforts among the scientists and engineers designing the tests and the health care workers deploying them. Recognizing the need to connect these groups, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium in September 2011 to discuss how to develop POCTs that can be effectively integrated into resource limited settings. Based on that colloquium, this report identifies the POCTs that would make the biggest impact on health and the qualities they need to be effective in resource limited settings. The report also discusses systemic barriers to POCT deployment and recommends addressing these barriers in order to foster a more conducive environment for POCT development. The report is an example of the benefit of improved communication among the many groups that must work together to bring POCTs to the people that need them the most.

 

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Clean Water: What is Acceptable Microbial Risk? 2007

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Prepared by Mark Lechevallier and Merry Buckley

It is a familiar scenario experienced around the world: an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness suddenly emerges in a community, and no one knows where it came from or how to stop it. At the start of the outbreak, only a few people are affected, most often the very old and the very young. As the outbreak worsens, more and more people fall ill, and people who were weak or unwell may develop life-threatening complications. Such outbreaks sometimes originate from a source that most people in the United States and other developed countries trust unquestioningly: drinking water. This report examines the risks related to pathogens in the water supply and puts forth recommendations for areas of research, communication needs, and methods of microbial risk assessment.

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Climate, Infectious Disease and Health: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, 1998

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Prepared by Rita R. Colwell, and Jonathan A. Patz.

Discusses research issues relating to the effects of climate on the incidence and distribution of infectious disease. Addresses specific infectious diseases and offers recommendations for future research.

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Dynamic Issues in Scientific Integrity: Collaborative Research, 1995

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Prepared by Francis L. Macrina, Ph.D.

Includes an in-depth analysis of the issues involved in collaborative scientific research and makes recommendations to educators, the broader microbiology community, policy makers, and the public.

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Educating the Microbiologist of the Future: The Role of Summer Courses, 2011

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In a rapidly evolving field, recruitment and education is critical, and microbiology is no exception. Intensive summer courses staffed by some of the most brilliant minds in microbiology, have proven to be a popular and effective way to hone early and mid-career microbiologist’s skills. The courses are particularly successful at equipping researchers for careers in emerging fields at the intersection of existing disciplines. Based on a colloquium held in January 2011, this report details the contribution of full immersion summer courses to the education of the microbiologists of the future. The report describes the broad and lasting impact of the current courses and defines common challenges that they all face. The recommendations in the report suggest ways to leverage the value and increase the impact of these courses, and propose developing a framework to allow course directors to communicate best practices and develop shared approaches to common challenges. The report affirms the value of these courses in developing the next generation of outstanding microbiologists.


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An Experimental Approach to Genome Annotation, 2004

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Prepared by Richard J. Roberts, Peter Karp, Simon Kasif, Stuart Linn, and Merry R Buckley.

This report details the continued work in genome annotation that will likely lead to new applications and progress in healthcare, bio-defense, energy, the environment, and agriculture. The report also discusses the critical challenges and ways to accelerate progress in the field of genome annotation.

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FAQ: Adult Vaccines: A Grown Up Thing to Do, 2012

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Because vaccines have been so successful at controlling diseases like smallpox and polio in the United States, we often take our relatively epidemic-free world for granted. But less than a lifetime ago, these diseases and others were still real threats to health. Despite vaccines’ successes, many people do not know how vaccines work, or that they are not just important for children, but adults too. On December 6th, 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a panel of experts to help explain how vaccines protect us from disease and what vaccination options are available to adults. The report also provides insights into the history of vaccines, why they are so safe, and why adults need to stay up to date on vaccines - to protect their health, and the health of their loved ones.

 

 

Teaching Materials

Adult Vaccination brochure for your office or classroom.

 

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FAQ: E. Coli: Good, Bad, and Deadly, 2011

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News headlines often paint E. coli as a vicious bacterium, capable of causing disease and death to those unfortunate enough to ingest it. But that is only a tiny minority of E. coli, and a very small part of the story of this remarkable bacterium; its relationship to human health and the food we eat is much more complex. Not all E. coli are bad - in fact most are not - and some are even beneficial. On September 1st 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology convened an expert panel of microbiologists, food safety experts, and bacteriologists to develop a more accurate picture of this often maligned bacterium. This report, the product of that meeting, tells the larger story of E. coli: its role in human health, in food, and even in our understanding of our own biology.

 

 

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ASM Curriculum Guidelines Description

The Secret Lives of E. coli teaching poster

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FAQ: Microbes and Oil Spills, 2011

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Is it true that microbes cleaned up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Can bacteria really “eat” oil, and if so, how? To help clear up the confusion the American Academy of Microbiology has brought together the nation’s leading experts to consider and answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding microbes and oil spills. This mini-colloquium, the first in a new series of reports designed to provide a rapid response to emerging issues, took place at ASM Headquarters in Washington, DC on October 28, 2010.

 

 

 

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Food Safety: Current Status and Future Needs, 1999

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Prepared by Stephanie Doores, Ph.D.

Analyzes new challenges affecting the safety of the food supply in the United States, charts directions for future research, and offers specific recommendations. Discusses factors that influence the incidence of foodborne disease, sampling and surveillance, risk assessment, and the food safety community.


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From Outside to Inside: Environmental Microorganisms as Human Pathogens, 2005

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Prepared by Gerard A. Cangelosi, Nancy E. Freitag, and Merry R. Buckley.

While many infectious diseases are caused by human-to-human transmission, others are caused by microorganisms that exist in the outside environment. The difference between the two is the ability for environmental pathogens to survive and thrive outside the host. The report recommends that scientists from different fields work together to address the challenges presented by these environmental pathogens.

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The Fungal Kingdom: Diverse and Essential Roles in Earth's Ecosystem, 2008

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Dr. Casadevall is interviewed by ABC Radio National, Australia

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Prepared by Arturo Casadevall, Joe Heitman, and Merry Buckley.


Fungi can cause a number of life-threatening diseases but they also are becoming increasingly useful to science and manufacturing every year. However, many people, scientists among them, are largely unaware of the roles fungi play in the world around us. Research on fungi and fungal diseases are seriously neglected as a result – a situation with grave negative repercussions for human health, agriculture, and the environment. The Fungal Kingdom explores the roles fungi play in the world around us.

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The Genomics of Disease-Causing Organism: Mapping a Strategy for Discovery and Defense, 2004

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Prepared by Merry Buckley.

This report details the study of pathogenesis and how far we have come to having a complete understanding of pathogenesis and a phylogenetic framework for understanding the phenomenon.

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Geobiology: Exploring the Interface Between the Biosphere and the Geosphere, 2001

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Prepared by Kenneth Nealson, William A. Ghiorse, and Evelyn Strauss.


This report identifies possibilities and challenges facing the developing, interdisciplinary science of geobiology.

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A Global Decline in Microbiological Safety of Water: A Call for Action, 1995

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globaldeclinewater

 

Prepared by Timothy E. Ford, Ph.D., and Rita R. Colwell, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Discusses issues in identification of the current extent of waterborne disease outbreaks, the future threat of waterborne outbreaks, and epidemics (and potential pandemics) within both developed and developing countries. Provides a framework for addressing these water quality issues globally.

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Global Food Safety: Keeping Food Safe from Farm to Table, 2010

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“Global Food Safety: Keeping Food Safe from Farm to Table,” is based on a colloquium convened by the Academy in 2009. This report reviews the current state of affairs in microbiological food safety around the world. It is extremely challenging to know how many people are made sick by food, which foods are at fault, which pathogens are most widespread or dangerous, and where those pathogens entered the food production system. In such a situation, where should research, prevention and education efforts be directed? In this report, each step in our complicated food production and supply system is described, highlighting key points of vulnerability, and making it clear that providing safe food is a shared responsibility.

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The Global Genome Question: Microbes as the Key to Understanding Evolution and Ecology, 2004

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Prepared by Merry R. Buckley.

Examines the current state of knowledge of microbial genomics, the technical challenges of using genomics in microbial systems, and the achievements that may now be possible by applying genomics to the study of microbiology. Makes recommendations for future directions in education and research.

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Health, Climate and Infectious Disease: A Global Perspective, 2001

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Prepared by Joan B. Rose, Anwar Huq, and Erin K. Lipp.

Takes a look at the combined advances in microbiology, meteorology, climatology, epidemiology, oceanography, ecology, medicine, and space science that are shedding light on the intricate connections between weather, oceans, and emerging and re-emerging diseases. Makes specific recommendations for future data collection, research collaboration, risk assessment, and the use of technology and molecular techniques.


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Incorporating Microbial Processes into Climate Models, 2012

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Microbes are critical players in every geochemical cycle relevant to climate including carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and others. The sum total of microbial activity is enormous, but the net effect of microbial activities on the concentration of carbon dioxide and other climate-relevant gases is currently not known. In February of 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium to discuss how to integrate microbiological processes and climate models. Based on that colloquium, this report examines our current understanding of how microbes influence climate and identifies key biogeochemical processes, heavily influenced by microbes, which offer attractive starting points to begin collaborations between the two fields. The report also recommends changes to data collection and accessibility, improved incentives for interdisciplinary collaborations, and the development of new technologies as important steps. While the challenge of integrating microbes into climate models is great, one thing is certain, microbes are a force in climate change that cannot be ignored.

 

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Large-Scale Sequencing: The Future of Genomic Sciences? 2009

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Scientists can gain insights into new ways to use microorganisms in medicine and manufacturing through a coordinated large-scale effort to sequence the genomes of not just individual microorganisms but entire ecosystems, according to a new report from the American Academy of Microbiology that outlines recommendations for this massive effort. The report, “Large-Scale Sequencing: The Future of Genomic Sciences?” is based on a colloquium convened by the Academy in September 2008. The report outlines recommendations for large-scale microbial sequencing efforts directed toward cultivated isolates and single cells, as well as a community-scale approach to characterize a set of defined ecosystems of varying complexity.


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Marine Microbial Diversity: The Key to Earth's Habitability, 2005

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Prepared by: Jennie Hunter-Cevera, David Karl, and Merry Buckley.

The report outlines how life on Earth may owe its existence to tiny microorganisms living in oceans, but the effect of human-induced change on the vital services these microbes perform for the planet remains largely unstudied.

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Microbial Communities: From Life Apart to Life Together, 2002

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Prepared by Merry Buckley.

Discusses issues surrounding microbial communities and their role in human health, industrial processes, and ecological functions, with recommendations for future research, education, and collaboration.

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Microbial Ecology and Genomics: A Crossroads of Opportunity, 2002

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microeco

 

Prepared by David A. Stahl and James Tiedje.

Examines the explosion of new information in microbial biology made available by recent advances in molecular technology--and looks at the important questions that remain. Recommends next steps for the integration of genomics with microbial systematics, evolution, and ecology.

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Microbial Energy Conversion, 2006

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Prepared by Merry Buckley and Judy Wall.

The report details one of the world’s largest problems – the need for clean, renewable sources of energy.


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Microbial Evolution, 2011

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It has been over 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin’s landmark book based on his observations of animals in the Galapagos Islands. The two core principles he described in his work, descent with modification and natural selection, have helped us understand life’s tremendous diversity. But how do these same principles pertain to the microbial world that Darwin could not see? In 2009 the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium in the Galapagos Islands to address this question. Based on that colloquium, this report summarizes the unique challenges posed by microbes, like vast evolutionary time scale, genetic promiscuity and rapid division, which complicate understanding microbial evolution. It also identifies areas of research and education where more information is needed to overcome these challenges. The report concludes that due to the power of microbes as model systems, tools in biotechnology, and drivers in biogeochemical and climate cycles, understanding microbial evolution may give us more than just the ability to understand microbial diversity; it will help understand the world around us.

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Microbial Forensics: A Scientific Assessment, 2003

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Prepared by Paul Keim.

Surveys this new field and makes recommendations about how to move it forward.

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Microbial Genomes: Blueprints for Life, 2000

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microbialgenomes

 

Prepared by David A. Relman, M.D., and Evelyn Strauss, Ph.D.

Details the enormous advances made possible through the genetic wealth and biological aptitude of microbes--and the new challenges arising from the advent of large-scale DNA sequencing. Discusses project selection and coordination, data management and analysis, training and education, funding, and ethics, and makes specific recommendations for future action.

The opinions expressed in this report are those solely of the colloquium participants and do not necessarily reflect the official position of our sponsors or the American Society for Microbiology.

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Microbial Triggers of Chronic Human Illness, 2005

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microtriggers

 

Prepared by Kathryn M. Carbone, Ronald B. Luftig, and Merry Buckley.

Details how the increase aging populations in the United States and throughout the developed world, appears to correlate with a switch from acute infectious diseases to chronic diseases as the major cause of morbidity and mortality. The report also recommends new criteria be developed for evaluating the strength of association between microbes and chronic illness.

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The Microbial World: Foundation of the Biosphere, 1997

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microworld

 

Prepared by James T. Staley, Ph.D., Richard W. Castenholz, Ph.D., Rita R. Colwell, Ph.D., D.Sc., John G. Holt, Ph.D., Matthew D. Kane, Ph.D., Norman R. Pace, Ph.D., Abigail A. Salyers, Ph.D., and James M. Tiedje, Ph.D.

Addresses the urgent need for increasing knowledge of the diversity of microorganisms. Interdisciplinary perspective deals with basic research, the role of culture collections and databases, applications and expected benefits, and issues of education, training, and communication.

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Microbiology in the 21st Century: Where Are We and Where Are We Going? 2004

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micro21

 

Prepared by Moselio Schaechter, Roberto Kolter and Merry Buckley.

This report details the central importance of microbes to life on earth, the direction microbiology research will take in the 21st Century and ways to foster public microbial literacy beginning at an elementary school level.

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Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis: Infrequent Human Pathogen or Public Health Threat? 2008

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Prepared by Carol Nacy and Merry Buckley.

People with Crohn’s disease (CD) are seven-fold more likely to have in their gut tissues the bacterium that causes a digestive-tract disease in cattle called Johne’s disease. The role this bacterium may or may not play in causing CD is a top research priority. This report points out that the cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, and the possible role of this bacterium, which could conceivably be passed up the food chain to people, has received too little attention from the research community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Preharvest Food Safety and Security, 2005

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preharvest

 

Prepared Richard E. Isaacson, Mary Torrence, and Merry R. Buckley.


Recent outbreaks of a number of foodborne illnesses have been linked to contamination occuring in the preharvest stage of food processing. The report also recommends creating an accessible international database of genetic sequences for known foodborne pathogens along with new and improved tools for detecting and cataloging pathogens on the farm.

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Probiotic Microbes: The Scientific Basis, 2006

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Prepared by Richard Walker and Merry Buckley.

This report details how beneficial microbes could represent the future of medicine, with the potential to treat a variety of diseases in humans and animals from diarrhea and eczema to gum disease and autoimmune disorders.

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The Rare Biosphere, 2011

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The microbial world represents the last truly unexplored frontier in the diversity of life on Earth. New environmental sampling technologies have revealed a wealth of rare microbial species in the soil, ocean, even our own bodies that were effectively cloaked from previous sampling methods by more abundant species. Dubbed the rare biosphere, these microbial species, while individually rare, collectively account for more than 75% of the biomass of some microbial communities, yet little is known about them. This rare biosphere represents a treasure trove of genetic novelty that may possess numerous unique bioprocesses and biomaterials. These rare species may play keystone roles in microbial communities and act as a reservoir of genetic diversity. But how can scientists effectively study the rare biosphere? In April 2009 the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium to explore this question. Based on that colloquium, this report analyzes the current state of study of the rare biosphere and identifies where gaps in knowledge exist. The report concludes that the Herculean task of studying the rare biosphere requires an international collaborative effort and additional environmental sampling, coupled with a focus on advancing sequencing and data analysis technologies. With less than 1% of microbial species able to be grown in the laboratory, the prospects of new discoveries in the rare biosphere seem as vast as microbial diversity itself.

 

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Reconciling Microbial Systematics and Genomics, 2007

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reconcilingmicro

 

Prepared by Merry Buckley and Richard J. Roberts

A new report, released by the American Academy of Microbiology, focuses on how until a decade ago, scientists categorized microorganisms almost exclusively by their physical characteristics: how they looked, what they ate, and the by-products they produced. With the advent of genomic sequencing and genetic analysis in the 1990s, our understanding of the relationships between different microorganisms fundamentally changed. In light of this new knowledge, what exactly is the definition of a microbial species, and how should microbiologists be categorizing microorganisms? These questions are the focus of this new report.

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Reevaluation of Microbial Water Quality: Powerful New Tools for Detection and Risk Assessment, 2001

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Prepared by Joan B. Rose, Ph.D., and D. Jay Grimes, Ph.D.

Evaluates current status of water quality, discusses new and emerging issues, and examines shortcomings of current practices. Outlines gene probes, genotyping, antibody, and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) techniques that stand to replace outdated testing methods. Makes specific recommendations for risk assessment, technology use, data collection, research collaboration, and evaluation and development of best practices.

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Research Opportunities in Food and Agriculture Microbiology, 2005

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Prepared by Michael Doyle, Lee-Ann Jaykus, and Matthew Metz.

Details the ever-present threats to the food supply posed by disease, spoilage, and the specter of agro-terrorism, along with how the commitment to research in food and agricultural microbiology is on the decline.

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Resolving the Global Burden of Gastrointestinal Illness: A Call to Action, 2002

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resolvingburden

 

Prepared by Pierre Payment and Merry S. Riley.

Looks at incidence, severity, and duration and discusses routes of transmission of gastrointestinal disease around the world. Recommends future directions for the clinical arena, research, education, disease prevention, and communication.

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The Role of Antibiotics in Agriculture, 2002

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Prepared by Richard E. Isaacson, Ph.D., and Mary E. Torrence, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Addresses the complicated questions around the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Examines the current state of research on origins and reservoirs of resistance, transfer of resistance, and modulating resistance by altering usage. Makes recommendations for surveillance, risk assessment, prudent use guidelines, management and production practices, and education.

 

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Scientific Foundations of Bioremediation: Current Status and Future Needs, 1992

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Prepared by David T. Gibson and Gary S. Sayler.

Responds to the need for evaluation of the scientific underpinnings of bioremediation and the future needs of the science underlying the technology of bioremediation.


Removing PCB's. One group of bacteria might be used to help clean toxic chlorine-based compounds out of the environment.

 

 

 

 

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The Scientific Future of DNA for Immunization, 1997

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Prepared by Harriet L. Robinson, Harold S. Ginsberg, Heather L. Davis, Stephen A. Johnston, and Margaret A. Liu.

Provides in-depth analysis of relevant issues and outlines a strategy for funding and coordinating a massive research effort to increase knowledge about the mechanism of genetic immunizations and to identify potential applications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Systems Microbiology: Beyond Microbial Genomics, 2004

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Prepared by Merry Buckley.

Details the power of applying a systems approach to the study of biology and to microbiology, specifics about current research efforts, technical limitations, database requirements, education needs, and communication issues that surround the field of systems microbiology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncharted Microbial World: Microbes and Their Activities in the Environment, 2008

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Prepared by Caroline Harwood and Merry Buckley.

Humans live in the midst of a seething, breathing microbial world. Microorganisms populate every conceivable habitat, both familiar and exotic, from the surface of the human skin, to rainforest floors, to hydrothermal vents in the ocean floors. Despite the powerful and pervasive role of microbes in sustaining life, most of the microbial world remains a mystery. This is the subject of The Uncharted Microbial World: Microbes and Their Activities in the Environment.

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Vaccine Development: Current Status and Future Needs, 2005

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Prepared by James Kaper, Rino Rappuoli, and Merry Buckley.

This report outlines the challenges society needs to confront in order to combat plagues of the 21st Century, and provides recommendations to overcome obstacles that prevent the best use of existing vaccines.

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