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Chapter 59 : “Wherever They Are Found…”
The declared purpose of the Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers, NJ, at its dedication in 1954 was "the study of the smallest forms of life, the microbes, wherever they are found and no matter what their activities may be." That philosophy was embodied in the life of the institute's inspirational first director, Selman Waksman. Working with microorganisms in health and disease, in the soil and elsewhere, Waksman saw little point in boundaries that divided microbiology into two or more different subdisciplines. There is a need for a more unified approach to the microbial world. The thought is prompted both by the general advances in molecular genetics and microbial ecology that surround us on all sides these days and by specific developments. Enterococcus faecium, is characterized by particularly high levels of antibiotic resistance, while enterococci in general can usually transfer their resistance genes quickly to closely related bacteria and to disparate genera, as well. The results of a study conducted at Germany first showed that enterococci were extremely widespread. Secondly, while strains of E. faecium, Enterococcus faecalis, and other species were recovered, most isolates belonged to a new genotype. While the literature contains sporadic reports of unidentified streptococci/enterococci in plants before and after 1984, their possible relevance for human health has received virtually no attention.