cloth, 355 p., $26
This excellent book will appeal to a wide range of readers, from middle school students to any adult interested in microbiology and nature. The highly readable text of A Field Guide to Bacteria, supplemented by 98 color plates and several figures, introduces the reader to bacteria that live in hot springs, soils, swamps, lakes, animals, foodstuffs and other locations. Author Betsey Dexter Dyer points out in her introduction that although some bacteria are pathogenic, most are relatively harmless. These non-pathogenic bacteria and the various ecological niches they occupy are the focus of the text.
The major theme of the guide is to help identify bacteria by macroscopic field marks — things that can be seen, smelled, touched or heard. Dyer organizes her chapters by taxonomic group. Each chapter concludes with a summary of field marks and habitats for the group of bacteria discussed, along with suggestions for field trips. While a microscope is not required to identify bacteria using this guide, information on microscopy, culture techniques and safety precautions for handling and culturing bacteria is included for those interested in further work.
— Jennifer Kiernan, plant pathologist and library volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden