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Germs, Genes, and Bacteria: How They Influence Modern Life (Collection) by Joyce A. Schoemaker, Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Anne Maczulak, Greg Gibson, David Clark

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6. The invisible universe

The field of microbial ecology focuses on the role microorganisms play in all of nature. Microbial ecologists study bacteria in small habitats of a few dozen species as well as global systems that circulate elements through continents and oceans. These systems called biogeochemical or nutrient cycles make carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and metals available for humans and all other life. Microbial ecology now includes technologies aimed at reversing global warming, pollution, and biodiversity loss.

Microbial ecologists continually uncover new Earth-human-bacteria relationships. Despite the importance of good bacteria in the environment, microbial ecology is a new science compared with food and medical microbiology. ...

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