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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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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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.

 

 

 

Teaching Materials

ASM Curriculum Guidelines Description

 

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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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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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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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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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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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The Microbial World: Foundation of the Biosphere, 1997

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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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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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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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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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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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