Books like Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life

Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life

2008, Carl Zimmer


Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life is a 2008 book by science writer Carl Zimmer. The book presents an overview of genetics research and genetic engineering by telling the story about the Escherichia coli (E. coli) species of bacteria which is omnipresent in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract. The title Microcosm refers to the notion that insights derived from the study of a relatively simple, single-celled organism like E. coli play in describing the fundamental features of all terrestrial life, including humans.

Microcosm explores the history of E. coli's role as a popular organism to study for researchers that has revealed how genes work and are regulated giving insight into evolution, behaviour and ecology. Beginning at its discovery in 1885 by pediatrician and microbiologist Theodor Escherich, through isolation of the strain K12 by Edward Tatum, and leading to the numerous Nobel prize winning research based on the K12 strain and its progeny, the book recounts the large number of scientific discoveries that have relied on this simple organism. The book continues on to reviews of modern and ongoing research leveraging E. coli including details about research exploring cellular nanomachines such as flagella and the composition and utility of microbial biofilms.

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