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The American Academy of Microbiology releases report

Washington, D.C., (September 22, 2003)--The size of microbes belies their impact across the globe, especially when they are grouped together in microbial communities. Microbial communities have significant effects upon virtually all aspects of human and environmental health, from films inside household water pipes, to the vast communities in the oceans that process global cycling of nutrients, to the increasingly important problem of antibiotic resistance.

A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), entitled "Microbial Communities: From Life Apart to Life Together," presents issues surrounding microbial communities and their role in human health, industrial processes, and ecology along with recommendations for future research, education, and collaboration. The report is based on an AAM-sponsored colloquium on May 35, 2002, entitled "Microbial Communities: Advantages of Multicellular Cooperation" held in Tucson, Arizona.

"Microbial communities operate on every scale and in every environment," says colloquium co-chair E. Peter Greenberg, Ph.D., University of Iowa. "These communities are important drivers of many of nature's cycles, such as atmospheric cooling and weather patterns. Furthermore, many of the infections that we can't handle well, that are resistant to antibiotics, are caused by these communities of microbes."

Part of the colloquium's value, according to Greenberg, was in bringing together microbiologists from very different subdisciplines to see what they could offer each other. "One of the exciting things is that many new tools have become available that should advance our common progress, such as new microscopy techniques for looking at communities and genomic techniques that allow us to see what genes are being expressed in communities at any one time."

The report discusses the importance of microbial community functions to human and environmental concerns; the status of current research findings in the field; t
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Contact: Mimi Godfrey
mgodfrey@asmusa.org
202-942-9292
American Society for Microbiology
22-Sep-2003


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