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Chapter 4 : Overview: General Microbiology
The challenge for environmental microbiology in the new millennium is to develop a predictive understanding of microbial communities in order to develop effective strategies for important global issues such as greenhouse gas mitigation, clean water generation, pollution remediation, and soil maintenance. Predicting the behavior of complex ecological communities, difficult even when individual elements can be clearly identified such as is the case in plant and animal systems, is further complicated by the large numbers of total individuals and different types of microbes present. The overall section organization and brief summaries of specific chapters are presented in this section. Pure cultures are necessary and an ultimate goal in microbiology; however, it is estimated that 1% or fewer of Earth's microorganisms are currently culturable. In the chapter on cultivation of communities, a community culture is described as one that by design keeps the structure and function of a set of interacting populations intact; this allows for the community to be resilient and adaptive, and if measured at the scale of a biofilm, for example, to be directly observed by using tools available through confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Advancement in molecular techniques has also enabled the manipulation of the genomes of specific organisms to provide an assayable response to environmental stimuli.