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1 April 2014

978 0 84933 317 0
CRC Press
GBP 141.00

Strict and Facultative Anaerobes: Medical and Environmental Aspects

Michiko M. Nakano and Peter Zuber (eds)

When is a strict and facultative anaerobe not a strict and facultative anaerobe? Quite a lot of the time it would seem according to Strict and Facultative Anaerobes, Medical and Environmental Aspects. Dedicated to unravelling anaerobiosis, the book does not aim to shift microbiological paradigms, but instead explores in great detail aspects of a select group of anaerobes from a medical and environmental perspective. With breathtaking detail, much of the text is given over to the dissection of pathways and biochemical reactions from a genetics perspective. To those unaccustomed to genetics (lots of three letter gene abbreviations!), the book can be overwhelmingly complex in places; however, there is enough fundamental microbiology, biology and biochemistry to keep readers happy. As with other books, this is not given over to bed-time reading, instead, this reviewer mined the expansive index for information relevant to my own interests which were medically oriented.

From a medical perspective, anaerobes play critical roles in several disease states. The role of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis (CF) is unequivocal; it colonizes the airways of CF patients to produce biofilms, phenotypically converting into a mucoid alginate form. This alginate, which is a complex polymer, is detrimental to the patient causing decreased pulmonary function and increased lung tissue damage. Research on the Ps. aeruginosa algR gene and its protein product (response regulator for activation of alginate production), along with algR mutants have shown that this is a key regulator of several anaerobic metabolism genes and may contribute to the mucoid deposition process. Disrupting algR and downstream genes could have hitherto beneficial consequences for mucoid development and, importantly, generate a positive impact on the lung physiology of CF patients.

A chapter on the role of Clostridium in cancer therapy is enlightening, if a little light on hard evidence (two figures taken from one paper). Non-pathogenic recombinant clostridial strains have been used to combat the development of tumours in mice. By exploiting necrotic areas of tumours, strains can be targeted to areas of hypoxia where, in preliminary data, tumour volumes can be reduced significantly. The proposed development of clostridial-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (CDEPT) requires clinical trials (as of 2004); however, the technology is generic and can be used for the delivery of prodrugs using less potent vectors such as antibiotics (ADEPT), genes (GDEPT), viruses (VDEPT) and polymers (PDEPT).

The remaining chapters on environmental aspects of anaerobes are chemistry based and would suit readers with more of a chemical bent. That said, these sections also cover the genetic dissection of critical events involved in some chemical reactions (e.g. the role of the sol operon in solventogenesis and the molecular and cellular biology of Acetogens), so some knowledge of genetics is also required. These chapters highlight the increasing, but beneficial, encroachment of genetics into environmental research as a means of elucidating mechanisms behind complex anaerobic reactions.

This book is essentially a ‘two-in-one’. Although strict and facultative anaerobes may be the common theme, placing medical aspects adjacent to environmental aspects seems slightly incongruous. The book would have worked well separated into two distinct entities, maybe as part of a Horizon Press series on anaerobiosis. This would have given the authors more space and perhaps eliminated the double-column format which can make reading unwieldy and difficult. Similarly, the use of in vivo expression technology (IVET) was not explained in depth. IVET has been instrumental in identifying a plethora of genes involved in infectivity and biofilm formation, to name but a few. A dedicated chapter to these techniques would have been welcomed. Notwithstanding these observations, the book is an exemplar amongst compendia. It would make an ideal companion for the advanced graduate student and early-stage postdoctoral scientist and provides a thorough background on anaerobic bacteria. Retailing at approximately £107, this is a great deal of book for the money and ought to be in every laboratory conducting anaerobic research.

John P. Phelan (Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland)

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