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  • In this Essay, Alberset al. discuss the remarkable achievements of two leaders of the archaeal research field: the late Carl Woese and the late Wolfram Zillig. They highlight how the discoveries of these two researchers have inspired the current and upcoming generations of microbiologists.

    • Sonja-Verena Albers
    • Patrick Forterre
    • Christa Schleper
  • Fungal taxonomy has recently undergone its biggest shake-up and embraced the modernization of its nomenclatural rules. Here, Hibbett and Taylor describe these changes and what their implications might be for fungal researchers.

    • David S. Hibbett
    • John W. Taylor
  • The emergence of new microbial infections is ever more likely with the globalization of trade and travel, changes to agricultural practices and climate change. However, as Lipkin describes in this Essay, this threat is being met by dramatic technological advances in pathogen discovery, surveillance and modelling.

    • W. Ian Lipkin
  • Competition is fierce in the microbial world, making evolutionary training and fitness essential for a microorganism to survive and thrive. To honour this spirit, in this Essay an expert panel has selected seven special events to make up the inaugural Microbial Olympics.

    • Merry Youle
    • Forest Rohwer
    • S. Craig Cary
  • The increasing levels of antibiotic resistance observed in clinical isolates, coupled with a lack of new drugs coming through the development pipeline, make the problem of antibiotic resistance a global crisis. In this Essay, Davies and colleagues draw up a priority list of urgent steps and future research directions that are needed to tackle this growing problem.

    • Karen Bush
    • Patrice Courvalin
    • Helen I. Zgurskaya
  • The increase in allergic diseases that has occurred in developing countries in recent years has been attributed to a decrease in exposure to the microorganisms in the environment. Blaser and Falkow reflect that this increase, as well as the ongoing obesity epidemic and increased susceptibility to infectious disease, might instead be the result of changes in the human microbiota.

    • Martin J. Blaser
    • Stanley Falkow
  • New and improved technologies are helping us to detect and characterize symbiotic microorganisms, whereas model symbiosis systems are revealing the molecular basis for partnerships. In this Essay, Margaret McFall-Ngai provides the historical context for the study of symbiosis and discusses the challenges that this emerging field faces.

    • Margaret McFall-Ngai
  • In recent years microbial ecology has experienced a renaissance. In this Essay, a group of leading microbial ecologists argue that the key to realizing the full potential of this renaissance lies in theory.

    • James I. Prosser
    • Brendan J. M. Bohannan
    • J. Peter W. Young
  • In this Essay, Karen-Beth Scholthof posits that wider use of the disease triangle concept, largely confined to the analysis of plant diseases, would encourage researchers to consider more closely the role of the environment in human health and disease.

    • Karen-Beth G. Scholthof