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Microbes Shaping History

01 February 2007 publication

The lead articles of the February 2007 issue of Microbiology Today are on a tale of two generals; a blight on Ireland; Churchill, Hitler and antimicrobials; end of devastating plague; and viral evolution in action.

Microbes shaping history (p. 06)

Past, present and future effects of microbes on mankind are reviewed by Bernard Dixon.

Napoleon and typhus: a tale of two generals (p. 08)

Gavin Thomas discusses how infectious disease had a major influence on Napoleon's campaigns.

Phytophthora: a blight on Ireland (p. 12)

Gareth Griffith talks about how potato late blight devastated 19th century Ireland and revolutionised plant pathology.

How two antimicrobials altered the history of the modern world (p. 16)

Milton Wainwright speculates on how the use of novel antimicrobial drugs on Churchill and Hitler may have altered the outcome of World War II.

Vaccination spells the end for a devastating plague (p. 20)

Tom Barrett reveals how a global vaccination programme is eradicating deadly rinderpest disease.

Evolution in action: a virological experiment of long duration (p. 24)

One of the longest biological experiments on recard is described by Jean Lindenmann.

Schoolzone (p. 30)

John Grainger offerse advice on choosing and using the right microbial cultures. Sue Assinder reports on the House of Lords's investigation into school science teaching. Kevin Charman describes his experience at the science fair at Heathside School, Weybridge, run by GlaxoSmithKline.

Gradline (p. 34)

Jane Westwell explains the two career paths in medical microbiology. The Society speaks to Matt Scarborough about his job in medical microbiology, in a Q&A format.

Going public (p. 38)

Jo Verran describes her experience in the spotlight of sensationalist media. Faye Stokes writes about the Science and the Parliament event in November 2006.

Why every protist needs a barcode (p. 46)

Phil Williamson and his colleagues argue that the questions like "what exactly is out there?" and "what features should we use to routinely distinguish organisms of different kinds?" are priorities for microbial taxonomists.

Comment: XDR tuberculosis - untreatable disease or the X factor in mycobacteriology (p. 52)

Ibrahim Abubakar looks at what XDR TB is and how it can be controlled.