Jackie Hardie rounds up new texts for A and AS-level biology. Microbiology and Biotechnology is the latest in Nelson's Biology Advanced Study series. The text is liberally illustrated with very clear black and white line drawings and flow diagrams, all with lucid and appropriate annotations. There are also black and white photographs, but in some cases their small size makes them almost useless (eg the bacterial cell with mesosome on page 7 and the Kent hop fields on page 47). Some illustrations have appeared in numerous other publications.
Scattered throughout the text are boxes of information, for example, the "Organism File" and the "Scientist File". In the latter the scientist may be a historical figure like Louis Pasteur or living scientists engaged in one of the current biological problem issues. One example is Linda Tyfield of the molecular genetics unit at a hospital near Bristol, who has worked on phenylketonuria, the most common disorder of amino-acid metabolism. These boxes show that scientists are real people and that science is used to solve human problems.
There are also case studies, one of which illustrates the problem authors and publishers face when producing a book covering recent trends in a subject. A short section gives information on the Ebola virus which was discovered in 1976. However, the violent outbreak, which occurred in 1995 and which hit the headlines worldwide, merits only 17 words.
Jackie Hardie is deputy head of the Latymer School in north London