The Fecal Bacteria

Editors: Michael J. Sadowsky1, Richard L. Whitman2
Affiliations: 1: Department of Soil, Water, and Climate and BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota; 2: Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station, Great Lakes Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Porter, Indiana
Content Type: Monograph
Format: Electronic, Hardcover
Publication Year: 2011

Category: Applied and Industrial Microbiology; Environmental Microbiology

MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.

offers a balanced, integrated discussion of fecal bacteria and their presence and ecology in the intestinal tract of mammals, in the environment, and in the food supply. This new volume covers their use in examining and assessing water quality in order to offer protection from illnesses related to swimming in or ingesting contaminated water, in addition to discussing their use in engineering considerations of water quality, modeling, monitoring, and regulations. Fecal bacteria are additionally used as indicators of contamination of ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce. The intestinal environment, the microbial community structure of the gut microbiota, and the physiology and genomics of this broad group of microorganisms are explored in the book.

With contributions from an internationally recognized group of experts, the book integrates medicine, public health, environmental, and microbiological topics in order to provide a unique, holistic understanding of fecal bacteria. Moreover, it shows how the latest basic science and applied research findings are helping to solve problems and develop effective management strategies. For example, readers will discover how the latest tools and molecular approaches have led to our current understanding of fecal bacteria and enabled us to improve human health and water quality.

is recommended for microbiologists, clinicians, animal scientists, engineers, environmental scientists, food safety experts, water quality managers, and students. It will help them better understand fecal bacteria and use their knowledge to protect human and environmental health. They can also apply many of the techniques and molecular tools discussed in this book to the study of a broad range of microorganisms in a variety of habitats.

There are no separately available contributors for this publication.

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American Biological Safety Association

25 March 2015

Having been mentored by J. Michael Janda and Sharon L. Abbott, authors of The Enterobacteria, I selected this book to examine other perspectives on the enteric bacteria. My goal was to find an additional reference book for training public health microbiologists and post-doctoral fellows. I found this book had both strengths and weaknesses.

The first few chapters review the digestive tracts of an assortment of animal species and identify the various segments of the intestine. The reader gains an understanding of where water is absorbed, where enzymes are produced/ released, and how carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins are digested. A significant portion of these chapters is also dedicated to ruminant versus simple monogastric digestion, with fermentation covered primarily. Digestion in mammal species with cecal fermentation and cellulose breakdown are also reviewed, making these chapters an excellent read for animal science students. The practical application of this chapter is to provide more information on fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract; it allows the reader to gain a better understanding of cellulose breakdown.

An early chapter breaks down the enterococci, anaerobes, Bacteroides, and Bifidobacterium species, providing an overview of the microbiota encountered in the digestive tract. However, each organism is addressed again in later chapters that focus on the organism, disease syndromes, and sources of contamination. Perhaps a more powerful format would have been to avoid redundancy by grouping these chapters together in the beginning of the book. The later chapters covered each organism, disease syndromes, and source of contamination in more detail. The book also provides some information on antibiotic resistance, and the last few chapters on pathogenic enteric bacteria focused ontheir ability to contaminate food and water.

A few chapters in the middle of the book cite different research projects. Although the information on animal species is well described, sometimes the switching between discussions on humans and animals is confusing to the reader. Several chapters discuss modeling, quantitative methods, and recommend particular molecular methods for certain studies. These chapters will be of value to researchers in the field.

There are a few weaknesses in this book, for example, the graphics. And I think that the authors were trying to address several different target audiences; the viewpoint is not always clear. Also, I would have preferred more discussion on the classic methods for testing food for enterics. Since the taxonomy of many of these species has been a moving target, a table identifying their current names with recent nomenclature changes would have been of great value.

On the positive side, the authors spend a great deal of time elaborating on pathogenesis, organism descriptions, and the use of molecular methodologies, source tracking, and the impacts on human and animal health. Also, the references at the end of the chapters are quite useful. I recommend this book as a reference for the experienced food or water microbiologist but not for a first-time enteric bacteriology student.

Reviewer Channing D. Sheets Biosafety Consultant, San Francisco, California, USA

Review Date November 4th 2014

The Quarterly Review of Biology

09 June 2013

The diversity of microorganisms in the gut is large; despite this fact there is lack of appreciation for the gut biome due to our lack of understanding of the biology involved. The Fecal Bacteria unravels this long neglected black box of intestinal microbiota. This book is a compilation of chapters authored by various writers who provide an interdisciplinary understanding of the subject. The volume moves between different disciplines seamlessly, keeping the continuum of thoughts alive and making it easier for readers to find a connection between chapters.

The first chapter articulates the need to understand the comparative anatomy of mammalian guts in determining intestinal prokaryotes and eukaryotes species composition. Following chapters relate the gut microbiome to the diet and genotype of an individual. One of the main themes of the book is to shed light on the still controversial question of which microorganism should be used as an indicator of fecal contamination of water. Several chapters are directed to trying to answer this question, covering such important topics as survival limits of fecal bacteria in external environments and tracking their source populations.

The volume also outlines the research tools needed to study gut microbiota in terms of genetics, biochemistry, physiology, ecology, phylogenetics, and evolutionary biology. This was especially impressive because of its inclusion of a chapter on the ecology and evolution of these gut communities. Only recently has this important topic become a focus of numerous reviews in the literature. The description of the microbial phyla that are present in the gut and their phylogenetic relatedness is just one of the many fascinating topics in this book aimed at understanding the biology of these organisms.

With all that this volume offers, it must be said that jargon usage in some chapters will provide a daunting challenge to nonspecialists. However, this does not alter the fact that this book is an important tool for beginners, and a valuable tool for experts in the field, as it allows for a clear and broad comprehension of this engrossing and consequential topic.

The Quarterly Review of Biology

Reviewer: Omar Warsi, Ecology & Evolution, Ston

Review Date: March 2012

Doody Enterprises

07 June 2013

At A Glance

Fecal bacteria have classically been used for the determination of water safety, sanitary system functioning and environmental health. It is now apparent that the bacteria, both the indicator bacteria and fecal bacteria more generally, are ubiquitous and that other determinants of safety are required. This volume, which focuses on indicator organisms but also more broadly on fecal bacteria, reviews the state of the art, and will be of interest not only to basic scientists but to those in many fields who apply the science to manage environments and human health.


This book reviews what we currently know about the bacterial species found in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract and the various methods used to evaluate the types and number of bacteria.


Intended to provide an extensive understanding of fecal bacteria and how they influence the health of the host, this unique book on the interaction of bacteria with humans also presents the technical challenges of studying these bacteria.


Although written for scientists, this book would be appropriate for students as well.


It begins by defining the environment of the mammalian gut and the ecology of bacterial populations in the gastrointestinal tract. It presents studies that have evaluated the variety of bacteria in the human intestinal tract which show that there are 800 to 1,000 different bacterial species in this area of the body. These bacteria, which make up approximately one kilogram of mass in the body, have a functional role in the digestive tract to both break down food substances and produce essential products that enhance the health of the host. Other studies reveal that, although there is a great deal of variation in the composition of gut microflora between individuals, the microflora is relatively stable over time in a single person. Additional studies demonstrate thatnthe genes of the microflora in the gastrointestinal tract outnumber the genes of the host by a hundred-fold. Several chapters describe the methods used to detect specific bacteria from the gut in the water supply that indicate fecal contamination.


This unique book describes the study of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract as well as the benefits that the bacteria provide to the host. These bacteria have a significant impact on the host, and understanding the benefits of normal bacteria could provide insight into diseases of the gut.

Doody Enterprises

Reviewer: Rebecca Horvat, PhD, D(ABMM) (University of Kansas Medical Center)

Review Date: Unknown

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