Caister Academic Press

Preface to Microbial Ecological Theory

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The vast explosion of high-resolution molecular data in the past few years has provided an unprecedented glimpse into the microbial world - with tantalizing results. Thus, the time is right to delve deeper into the ever-increasing knowledge base on this unseen majority. Born out of a desire to provide further insight into this accumulating wealth of data, the book synthesizes current view points and knowledge on the topic of microbial ecological theory. We have assembled a collection of essays by a diverse group of well-respected scientists who merge the boundaries of ecology and microbiology, to explore some of the central tenets of macro-ecological theory with a microbial perspective. The contributors explore the mainstays of macro-ecology asking questions such as 'Are microbes everywhere?' and 'Does a microbial species concept exist?', as well as showing how high-resolution molecular data are informing and underpinning the evolution of microbial ecological theory. What becomes apparent is how the application of macro-ecological theory to the microbial world is not only enhancing our understanding of microbial ecology but also providing a reference point for the development of new theories.

Written for graduate students and academic researchers, the book aims to stir crossdisciplinary thinking and provide direction and perspective on the still fledgling field of microbial ecological theory.

Lesley A Ogilvie is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Brighton, UK. Her research is focused on microbial ecology, specifically the connection between gut microbial community structure and functioning and the onset and progression of disease. Penny R Hirsch leads a research group at Rothamsted Research, supported by BBSRC funding. Her interests include the microbial ecology of soils and plants, in particular those related to improving the sustainability of food production.

The editors would like to wholeheartedly thank all authors for their contributions to this book, acknowledging the time, effort , and original thought put into each chapter.

Lesley A. Ogilvie and Penny R. Hirsch