General Microbiology - 1st Edition
Linda Bruslind, Oregon State University
Copyright Year: 2020
Publisher: Oregon State University
Conditions of Use
This text covers a broad range of the introductory microbiology basics in a clean, straight-to-the point manner, and introduces the working vocabulary needed. It covers many core topics that I would expect to find in a micro class, with the... read more
This text covers a broad range of the introductory microbiology basics in a clean, straight-to-the point manner, and introduces the working vocabulary needed. It covers many core topics that I would expect to find in a micro class, with the exception of material discussing control of microbial growth (disinfectants/autoclaving/antibiotics), antibiotic resistance (how it is acquired, why it is a problem), and host-pathogen interactions (related to human health/immunity/vaccinations/medicine). A little more could be included about eukaryotic microbes, but most micro classes do focus more on prokaryotes, which this covers. Most of the American Society for Microbiology Core Competencies for Undergraduate Microbiology are met with the few exceptions as noted above.
The content that I reviewed was accurate and expected for an intro to micro text. For the very few lesser-known pieces of information that were conversationally shared, a reference or link to cite the source would be helpful for readers who are curious! (one example- page 76: “All good things must come to an end (otherwise bacteria would equal the mass of the Earth in 7 days!)”- how was that was calculated?)
As written, it largely contains the foundations of microbiology, and a small bit of historical information, that is unlikely to change within the next few years. The exception would be the end chapters covering genetic engineering (as new techniques evolve) and microbial genomics (as DNA sequencing expands our current view of microbial genomes).
The writing style is more conversational, which can take a little getting used to, compared to many other textbook stylings that sound more formal and scientific. This means the tone can be a little casual, but I don’t think it is distracting; it makes for a very approachable view of Microbiology that is appealing to students, especially non-major undergrads.
The text flows in the same conversational pattern throughout, giving one voice to the flow of information. Each chapter has the same formatting, with the content followed by a box of keywords (which is useful as a summary of key chapter terms/names/topics for students) and study questions directly related to what was just read. All vocabulary words are noted in bold throughout the text.
I enjoyed the overall setup of this text; the sections cover the essentials without extra fluff- and the sections are not long and cumbersome. They cover the basics, and move on. This could serve as a backbone structure for a class with other supplemental materials provided to accompany it (such as case studies, articles, videos, etc).
Going from the start and moving towards the back of the book, the chapters progress in their content and build upon the previous information. This is the kind of book that almost anyone could pick up and guide themself through a working knowledge of microbes.
I easily read this as a PDF file and on the website. Most pictures are large and well-colored, and nicely demonstrate the ideas discussed. A few images here and there are pixelated/a little blurry, but not to the point of not being able to see the object/main idea. All links that I tested worked and went to relevant/appropriate websites.
Rare- did not encounter many (1-2 per chapter at most).
The text is very straight forward, and I did not see any instances of insensitive examples or statements as it is centralized to the microorganisms. (see overall comment)
This book focuses primarily on the microbial aspect of microbiology, without major emphasis on the human perspective of it (health/historically/culturally). While this makes the text very simple to read and understand, it is missing that connection of the microbial world to the human one. And this might make it harder for students to see how important and impactful microbes are in our world. Examples of microbiology impacting daily life could give relevance and context to much of the material presented in this text.
The focus of this concise and easy to read text is the introduction of bacteria, archaea, and viruses and how they function and are controlled. Fungi and other microbes are minimally included. The effects of microbes on humans, the function of... read more
The focus of this concise and easy to read text is the introduction of
bacteria, archaea, and viruses and how they function and are controlled. Fungi and other
microbes are minimally included. The effects of microbes on humans, the function of the
immune system, and disease principles and vaccination are not present. For the content presented
in the 22 chapters, it would be easy for an instructor to supplement additional content to enhance
the course content with literature, case studies, and more. The later chapters that have some of
the content that is subject to more frequent change/updating (such as microbial engineering) but
there is some opportunity to add some additional info (such as on DNA sequencing, it would be
nice to see Sanger Sequencing and a figure on that included, and a figure on how CRISPR-Cas9
works in bacteria). All of the terminology that is necessary is bolded and included at the end of
each chapter. Additional links to supplemental information is useful to expand the information.
The questions at the end of each chapter highlight the expected learning objectives from each
Much of the content is accurate through the text, but some of the explanations are
simplified to the point of inaccuracy (for example, the description of peptidoglycan indicates that
L-amino acids are primarily used by cells -- it should be clarified that they are primarily used by
cells for protein synthesis, as there are several cellular uses for D-amino acids in bacteria
including peptidoglycan, secondary metabolite production, and quorum sensing). There are some
term associations that are not commonly used (for example, classifying spirochaetes as curved
rods); incorrect terms used (the singular for pili is pilus, not pilin); some missing information that
should be included (the bacterial morphology should include diplococci, streptococci, hyphal
structures, and others). Some of the figures need some correction: the phylogenetic trees are
different and indicate that fungi are more closely related to plants (fungi and animals are more
closely related, part of the Opisthokonta supergroup); the prokaryotic cell has the fimbriae
labeled as pili.
This text is written to give the basics of microbiology throughout. While the field
of microbiology is ever-changing, this book is mostly sufficient to give the foundations to
students, and instructors can easily supplement with more specific information, case studies, etc.
However, there is no content about the immune system, which should be included for majors
microbiology or medical microbiology courses.
The text is written for ease of reading; the conversational tone helps with
accessibility to the information presented by the authors. Some of the more complicated
explanations have figures to help with visualizing the key points, and the embedded links assist
in further clarifying the content.
Each chapter has a consistent, conversational tone that should allow students to
connect easily with the content. Important terms are bolded and defined throughout the entire
text, and then listed at the end of each chapter as key words. The figures are sufficiently easy to
follow, though I would recommend that the figures have standalone descriptions. One
inconsistency in early chapters is the introduction of some terms with the initial plural term
(singular in parentheses), whereas later chapters do the opposite.
This text is easily modular and can be rearranged into various subunits based on
the course structure as needed by the instructor. While designed in an overall logical order, one
could easily move content to focus on different topics at various points in the semester.
The overall organization is mostly logical and straightforward. I would
recommend moving the content in Chapter 16 earlier in the text because it introduces Early Earth
and evolution, and defines phylogenetic trees; however multiple phylogenetic trees are
introduced in earlier chapters.
Most of the figures were easily identifiable and clear. In the PDF version of the
text, the cell wall structures image in Chapter 7 is blurry and needs to be fixed. The embedded
links were functional and provided nice additional resources to the students as they go through
Overall the grammar is consistent and there are limited errors that stand to be
The focus of this text is primarily on the microbes themselves and how they grow. There is no focus on culture or ethnicity. There is a missed opportunity to connect microbiology to their greater impact on the planet and humanity, such as the impacts of microbes on human evolution and human history. The history of microbiology should be included to provide some additional cultural context.
Overall this is an easy-to-read, basic microbiology textbook for students. If the
content corresponds to all of the course SLOs, then this would be a good text to use.
As noted in the first chapter, Eukaryotic microorganisms are not covered in detail. Host Immunity and Vaccination are not covered. These omissions are a weakness of the text, in my opinion. read more
As noted in the first chapter, Eukaryotic microorganisms are not covered in detail. Host Immunity and Vaccination are not covered. These omissions are a weakness of the text, in my opinion.
Content is accurate.
Chapters covered topics relevant to Microbiology.
Very concise and clear. Bruslind’s writing style is very accessible which is a strength of the text. I expect students will appreciate the concise language that sticks to main points. I anticipate students will rely on prior knowledge for some chapters. For example, there is no review of the chemistry of life and biomolecules. Other chapters seem incomplete. For example, Chapter 21 defines virulence as the measure of a pathogen’s likelihood to cause disease but does not explain how virulence is measured. This may mean students need to use other sources to fully understand content.
Great format. Each chapter format includes section titles, a list of key terms and study questions that align with common learning objectives.
Chapters are nicely parsed, with the exception of Chapter 21. In my opinion this chapter should be split into 2 chapters, one covering epidemiology and the other covering pathogenicity in more detail (more about virulence factors) than provided in this chapter. I appreciate the separation of Microbial Metabolism into several chapters.
Great flow that is similar to most Microbiology texts. The separation of bacterial cell wall and external structures into two chapters is a great way to avoid confusion about the cell envelope. I appreciate the thorough introduction to Bacteria, Archaea and viruses before covering microbial growth and metabolism.
No problem as viewed on Google Chrome.
No errors found. Writing style is clear.
This is a weakness of the text. History of Microbiology is Eurocentric. Example of nomenclature uses a European male name. CRIPSR-Cas is explained without mention of Emmanuelle Charpentier or Jennifer Doudna, both of whom won the Nobel prize for its discovery.
Note that as the title suggests, this is a general text, providing the ‘bones’ of Microbiology. I see it as more appropriate for non-majors course at 100 level. The style of writing is very approachable and even informal at times. The strength is the concise way topics are presented. This is also the limitation of the text for a few reasons. First, there are less figures and/or simplified figures which is a weakness, especially for visual learners. Second, there is little connection to practical examples. However, this can be supplemented by classwork. Third, there are no chapters covering human infectious diseases (as are usually included in Microbiology textbooks for Allied Health). Since information about human infectious diseases changes frequently, this may be seen as an advantage, giving the instructor the ability to update the course with current topics. In addition, this means that the text may be used for a course in Environmental Microbiology, Food Microbiology (with the addition of material on yeast), or other special topic in Microbiology. I would find the text useful for those looking for a basic text upon which they can customize examples and explore the relevance of each topic through classroom activities and facilitated discussions.
This is a very concisely written, comprehensive textbook that covers most of the major topics usually found in a General Microbiology course. The key word here is “general” because this is not a text that is specifically written for Health... read more
This is a very concisely written, comprehensive textbook that covers most of the major topics usually found in a General Microbiology course. The key word here is “general” because this is not a text that is specifically written for Health Sciences students who will be going into nursing, dental hygiene, etc., although there is one very short chapter on Bacterial Pathogenicity and another on viral transmission. However, there is little mention of other fungal or helminth infections.
The interactive “Contents” that appears on the left of the screen when needed, lists the contents of the 22 individual chapters. Each chapter title serves as a “hot link” that takes the reader to that page within the textbook. Helpful features for both instructors and students are the “Key Words” and “Study Questions” that are posted at the conclusion of every chapter. Additionally, the key words are set in eye-catching bold type throughout the text.
The chapters are surprisingly short in length given what is usually seen in the average lengthy textbook for this complex course. But the author has chosen to convey the critical information that a student needs without all of the wordiness that is more common in other texts. Within each chapter, the topic is covered in a conversational way that engages the reader because of the friendly, modern and often humorous way it is written. It reads like what an engaging lecturer would be saying in an actual classroom. There are also pertinent figures and illustrations to help understanding of critical concepts.
The thrifty use of words in the chapters that demand highly technical explanations and/or descriptions doesn’t lend itself to many inaccuracies because detailed information is kept “short and sweet”. So, there are no glaring errors that could be detected. Instead, the details are very straightforward and presented in a readable and conversational language. In the one chapter on Genomics that contains very detailed technological explanations, there were no errors detected.
Because Microbiology is a field of biology that is always undergoing change (like the Covid-19 Pandemic!), many textbooks are invariably out-of-date from the aspect of new technologies and microbial strains included from the moment they are published. The abbreviated format of this text skirts this issue by providing minimal but accurate information on more recent technologies and these are found in the chapter on Genomics, where only one or two paragraphs is used to describe them along with helpful diagrams and figures where needed. Instructors using this text would find it easy to supplement more recent material as necessary
This text is written in a conversational type of prose which normally might not lend itself to scientific technical jargon, but that is not of concern here because topics are described concisely. Complicated information is explained clearly for ease in understanding.
This 1st Edition of this text is very consistent as to its framework and level of terminology used. Each of the 22 chapters is concise, offering basic diagrams and/or figures as necessary. Important terminology is printed in bold typeface and included in a list of key words at the chapter’s end along with the study questions. There is an evenness to the entire text.
This text exhibits its modularity in the chapters themselves, rather than in parts or sections, because the chapters are so concise. These chapters can easily be arranged to complement the organization of a particular course. With 22 different chapters on specific aspects of microbial life available in compact units of information, many different sequences can be chosen by an instructor. An example of the concentration of information in the individual chapters is the one on Genomics that is like a miniature encyclopedia of biotechnology involving microbes.
This concise text on what can be the overpowering topic of General Microbiology demonstrates good organization in the ordering of the chapter topics. Because this is a “General” Microbiology text, the main themes are the differences between the different types of microbes according to their genomes, their metabolism and their relationships to the rest of our global ecology.
There are no apparent issues with the interface between sections of this text. All figures and diagrams were clearly visible and it was very easy to navigate between individual chapters as well as find them in the content section.
There did not appear to be any issues with either grammar or spelling in any of the chapters.
Because the entire text is about microorganisms and there is little or no reference to humans, there are no problems with any cultural aspects. There is nothing in the subject matter that could be construed as being either insensitive or offensive to any students using it.
This is a very good General Microbiology text that covers all the bases. Additionally, students should like its conversational tone as the author “speaks” to the reader with some humor and wit when warranted, thus drawing the reader in as a participant in the discussion rather than as an observer. It is based on sound scientific facts about the wide range of microorganisms on our planet. The only thing it lacks is the history of Microbiology and any real mention of the scientists who contributed to our current vast knowledge.
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction to Microbiology
- 2. Microscopes
- 3. Cell Structure
- 4. Bacteria: Cell Walls
- 5. Bacteria: Internal Components
- 6. Bacteria: Surface Structures
- 7. Archaea
- 8. Introduction to Viruses
- 9. Microbial Growth
- 10. Environmental Factors
- 11. Microbial Nutrition
- 12. Energetics & Redox Reactions
- 13. Chemoorganotrophy
- 14. Chemolithotrophy & Nitrogen Metabolism
- 15. Phototrophy
- 16. Taxonomy & Evolution
- 17. Microbial Genetics
- 18. Genetic Engineering
- 19. Genomics
- 20. Microbial Symbioses
- 21. Bacterial Pathogenicity
- 22. The Viruses
About the Book
Welcome to the wonderful world of microbiology! Yay! So. What is microbiology? If we break the word down it translates to “the study of small life,” where the small life refers to microorganisms or microbes. But who are the microbes? And how small are they? Generally microbes can be divided in to two categories: the cellular microbes (or organisms) and the acellular microbes (or agents). In the cellular camp we have the bacteria, the archaea, the fungi, and the protists (a bit of a grab bag composed of algae, protozoa, slime molds, and water molds). Cellular microbes can be either unicellular, where one cell is the entire organism, or multicellular, where hundreds, thousands or even billions of cells can make up the entire organism. In the acellular camp we have the viruses and other infectious agents, such as prions and viroids. In this textbook the focus will be on the bacteria and archaea (traditionally known as the “prokaryotes,”) and the viruses and other acellular agents.
About the Contributors
Linda Bruslind, Oregon State University