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From The CriticsReviewer: Thomas C Zahrt, Ph.D. (Medical College of Wisconsin)
Description: This is a new textbook that strives to describe the molecular and cellular interactions between pathogenic bacteria and the human host. Topics discussed include the major bacterial pathogens and the diseases they cause; methods for identifying and studying bacterial virulence genes; the host response to bacterial pathogenesis; and the methods used by bacterial pathogens to cause disease. The use of multiple teaching aids makes this book particularly useful for graduate students in the biological sciences.
Purpose: The purpose is to describe in detail the intimacy of the interactions that exist between bacteria and our own cells both in health and during human infection. These details are outlined from the viewpoint of a cellular microbiologist, a recent scientific discipline that is a fusion between microbiology, molecular biology and cell biology. Throughout the book, the authors focus on the central premise that both bacteria and their multicellular hosts have co-evolved molecular and cellular mechanisms to evade and overcome the offensive and defensive mechanisms employed by one another. Although the authors are successful in conveying their objectives, the general material covered in this book can be found in many current medical microbiology and immunology textbooks. However, the ability of the authors to concentrate the material and principally focus on aspects of bacterial-host interactions makes this book particularly useful for those learning about the complex interactions between ourselves and the bacteria that live with us.
Audience: This is a well-written book by three experts in the field of microbiology, molecular biology, and cell biology. As the authors suggest, this book will be useful as a core textbook for upper-level undergraduate or graduate students taking courses in microbiology or medical microbiology. However, it is likely to be too focused and complex for lower-level undergraduate students studying in these fields, or as a core textbook for medical students during their training in medical microbiology and immunology.
Features: The book focuses on various aspects of the interactions between bacteria and the human host. The first two chapters are devoted to covering many of the commonly encountered bacteria, the diseases they cause, and general aspects regarding the virulence determinants of these organisms. The third chapter describes in detail the current techniques utilized by investigators to study virulence mechanisms. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 introduce the reader to the host response to bacteria, and describe the various strategies used by the host to prevent or inhibit infection. Chapters 7 and 8 outline the mechanisms used by bacterial pathogens to adhere to and invade host tissues, two central activities required for disease elicitation in many pathogen organisms, while chapter 9 describes in detail an alternative mechanism utilized by pathogenic bacteria to cause disease in the host, production of bacterial toxins. Finally, chapters 10 and 11 describe some of the mechanisms used by bacteria to evade aspects of the host immune response, and where the field of cellular microbiology is going in the near future. Although this book does a good job of covering a substantial amount of current information in great detail, the organization of information within and between chapters is often disjointed and frequently makes the authors' overall intentions difficult to define. However, the use of multiple teaching aids in each chapter including the chapter outline, aims, concept check, and what's new, helps reinforce the authors' overall intent for the reader. The authors do a wonderful job of including relevant figures and illustrations throughout the entire book.
Assessment: This book is a nice addition to the newly-emerging field of cellular microbiology, and will make a useful resource for those studying general aspects of bacterial-host interactions.