Fundamentals of Microbiome Science: How Microbes Shape Animal Biology

Princeton University Press
Free sample

An essential introduction to microbiome science, a new cutting-edge discipline that is transforming the life sciences

This book provides an accessible and authoritative guide to the fundamental principles of microbiome science, an exciting and fast-emerging new discipline that is reshaping many aspects of the life sciences. Resident microbes in healthy animals--including humans—can dictate many traits of the animal host. This animal microbiome is a second immune system conferring protection against pathogens; it can structure host metabolism in animals as diverse as reef corals and hibernating mammals; and it may influence animal behavior, from social recognition to emotional states. These microbial partners can also drive ecologically important traits, from thermal tolerance to diet, and have contributed to animal diversification over long evolutionary timescales.

Drawing on concepts and data across a broad range of disciplines and systems, Angela Douglas provides a conceptual framework for understanding these animal-microbe interactions while shedding critical light on the scientific challenges that lie ahead. Douglas explains why microbiome science demands creative and interdisciplinary thinking—the capacity to combine microbiology with animal physiology, ecological theory with immunology, and evolutionary perspectives with metabolic science.

An essential introduction to a cutting-edge field that is revolutionizing the life sciences, this book explains why microbiome science presents a more complete picture of the biology of humans and other animals, and how it can deliver novel therapies for many medical conditions and new strategies for pest control.

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About the author

Angela E. Douglas is the Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Insect Physiology and Toxicology at Cornell University. Her books include The Symbiotic Habit (Princeton) and Symbiotic Interactions.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
May 15, 2018
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9781400889822
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Anatomy & Physiology
Science / Life Sciences / Ecology
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Life Sciences / Genetics & Genomics
Science / Life Sciences / Microbiology
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Microbial ecology is the study of interactions among microbes in natural environments and their roles in biogeochemical cycles, food web dynamics, and the evolution of life. Microbes are the most numerous organisms in the biosphere and mediate many critical reactions in elemental cycles and biogeochemical reactions. Because they are essential players in the carbon cycle and related processes, microbial ecology is a vital science for understanding the role of the biosphere in global warming and the response of natural ecosystems to climate change. This second edition has been fully revised, restructured, and updated while remaining concise and accessible. It discusses the major processes carried out by viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other protists - the microbes - in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems. The focus is on biogeochemical processes, starting with primary production and the initial fixation of carbon into cellular biomass, before exploring how that carbon is degraded in both oxygen-rich (oxic) and oxygen-deficient (anoxic) environments. These processes are in turn affected by ecological interactions, including competition for limiting nutrients, viral lysis, and predation by various protists in soils and aquatic habitats. The book neatly connects processes occurring at the micron scale to events happening at the global scale, including the carbon cycle and its connection to climate change issues. A final chapter is devoted to symbiosis and other relationships between microbes and larger organisms. Microbes have huge impacts not only on biogeochemical cycles, but also on the ecology and evolution of more complex forms of life, including humans.
Groundbreaking research over the last 10 years has given rise to the hologenome concept of evolution. This concept posits that the holobiont (host plus all of its associated microorganisms) and its hologenome (sum of the genetic information of the host and its symbiotic microorganisms), acting in concert, function as a unique biological entity and therefore as a level of selection in evolution.

All animals and plants harbor abundant and diverse microbiota, including viruses. Often the amount of symbiotic microorganisms and their combined genetic information far exceed that of their host. The microbiota with its microbiome, together with the host genome, can be transmitted from one generation to the next and thus propagate the unique properties of the holobiont. The microbial symbionts and the host interact in a cooperative way that affects the health of the holobiont within its environment. Beneficial microbiota protects against pathogens, provides essential nutrients, catabolizes complex polysaccharides, renders harmful chemicals inert, and contributes to the performance of the immune system. In humans and animals, the microbiota also plays a role in behavior. The sum of these cooperative interactions characterizes the holobiont as a unique biological entity. Genetic variation in the hologenome can be brought about by changes in either the host genome or the microbial population genomes (microbiome). Evolution by cooperation can occur by amplifying existing microbes, gaining novel microbiota and by acquiring microbial and viral genes. Under environmental stress, the microbiome can change more rapidly and in response to more processes than the host organism alone and thus influences the evolution of the holobiont. Prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics and phage therapy are discussed as applied aspects of the hologenome concept.

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