In this page we offer links to our books and a few other writings, a couple of lectures, and an online course...
Elio Schaechter, editor – 2016
A collection of posts from STC and printed in 2016 to mark the tenth anniversary of the blog:"In the Company of Microbes is a carefully selected treasure chest of wise, amusing, and even profound statements about the ubiquity and relevance of the microbial world. Schaechter, past ASM Presidents, and distinguished microbiologists from around the globe reflect on personal, sometimes historic interactions with microbes and unexpected discoveries, each essay conveying the excitement and sense of surprise that microbiology holds for them. This is the reason that Small Things Considered is a scientific and social media phenomenon that has impacted scientists at every stage of their careers and shared the magic of microbes with the world."
Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter – 2017
" Life at the Edge of Sight opens a beautiful new frontier for readers to explore through words and images. We learn that there is more microbial biodiversity on a single frond of duckweed floating in a Delft canal than the diversity of plants and animals that biologists find in tropical rainforests. Colonies with millions of microbes can produce an array of pigments that put an artist’s palette to shame. The microbial world is ancient and ever-changing. All other organisms have evolved within this universe of microbes, yielding intricate beneficial symbioses. With two experts as guides, the invisible microbial world awaits in plain sight."
Roberto Kolter and Stanley Malory, editors – 2012
"Inspired by a 2009 colloquium on microbial evolution convened at the Galapagos Islands, Microbes and Evolution continues to celebrate Charles Darwin and his landmark book On the Origin of Species. Features 40 first-person essays written by microbiologists with a passion for evolutionary biology, whose thinking and career paths in science were influenced by Darwin s seminal work. Includes personal viewpoints on the importance of evolutionary principles in the study of a variety of aspects of life science, from taxonomy, speciation, adaptation, social structure, and symbiosis to antibiotic resistance, genetics, and genomics."
Elio Schaecther – 1997
"We might slice them into a salad, savor them in a sauce, wonder at their power to intoxicate or poison, marvel at their multifarious presence in the forest--but few of us realize that mushrooms, humbly thriving on decay, are crucial to life on Earth as we know it. In this book a distinguished biologist, long intrigued by the secret life of fungi, reveals the power of these curious organisms--not quite animal, not quite plant--to enchant and instruct, to nourish and make way for all sorts of superior forms of nature. In a style at once learned and quirky, personal and commanding, Elio Schaechter imparts the fascinating minutiae and the weighty implications of his subject--a primarily microscopic life form that nonetheless accounts for up to two tons of matter for every human on the planet. He shows us how fungi, the great decomposers, recycle most of the world's vegetable matter – from a blade of grass to a strapping tree – and thus prevent us from sinking under ever-accumulating masses of decaying matter."
"In one’s crepuscular (now, that’s a word I’ve never used before) phase of life, writing memoirs seems mandatory. Actually, I wrote these some ten years ago, but I was already reaching old age then. My apologia pro labore mea relies on my belief that my first twenty or so years of life were a bit unusual, although far from unique—most of my fellow young escapees from Europe had similar journeys. But this is my story, the one I can best write about."
Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter, Introduction by Jon Clardy
(October 19, 2017 at Harvard Museum of Natural History)
"In this lecture, Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter share their fascination with the wonders of the microbial world through vignettes and images from their book, Life at the Edge of Sight: A Photographic Exploration of the Microbial World (Harvard University Press). Their presentation features a stunning visual exploration of microbes, from the pioneering findings of a seventeenth-century visionary to magnificent close-ups of the inner workings and cooperative communities of Earth’s most prolific—but often invisible—organisms."
Roberto Kolter and Scott Chimileski (Introduction by Jane Pickering)
(February 15, 2018 at Harvard Museum of Natural History)
"Although largely invisible, microbes are ubiquitous and have a profound influence on daily life. Using the familiar environment of our homes as a basis for their talk, Roberto Kolter and Scott Chimileski will guide the audience through a tour of the remarkable microbial universe, from “invisible chefs” instrumental in preparing many of our favorite foods, to microbes that inhabit our bodies and help keep us healthy. In considering the role microbes play in shaping both human life and the natural history of the planet, this lecture will introduce the new Microbial Life exhibition opening to the public Saturday, February 17. Program attendees are welcome to visit the museum galleries after the lecture for a sneak preview of the exhibit."
Pia Sorensen and Roberto Kolter
(Free, self-paced, online course from HarvardX)
"Explore the roles that microbes play in the production, preservation, and enhancement of diverse foods in a variety of culinary traditions, and learn about the history of food fermentations."
Roberto Kolter – 2021
(Annual Review of Microbiology 71:1-17)
"Microbiology began as a unified science using the principles of chemistry to understand living systems. The unified view quickly split into the subdisciplines of medical microbiology, molecular biology, and environmental microbiology. The advent of a universal phylogeny and culture-independent approaches has helped tear down the boundaries separating the subdisciplines. The vision for the future is that the study of the fundamental roles of microbes in ecology and evolution will lead to an integrated biology with no boundary between microbiology and macrobiology."
Roberto Kolter, Nathalie Balaban & Thomas Julou – 2022
(Current Biology 32:PR599-R605)
"Bacteria have evolved numerous strategies to use resources efficiently. However, bacterial economies depend on both the physiological context of the organisms as well as their growth state — whether they are growing, non-growing or reinitiating growth. In this essay, we discuss some of the features that make bacteria efficient under these different conditions and during the transitions between them. We also highlight the many outstanding questions regarding the physiology of non-growing bacterial cells. Lastly, we examine how efficiency is apparent in both the mode and tempo of bacterial evolution."