As we continue to live through a pandemic, all eyes are on microbes: an imperceptible and pervasive threat that hangs heavy on the air and clings to surfaces. But the reality of micro-organisms is far more diverse and life-sustaining than such a notion would have us believe (hence the title of this book). Not only are they omnipresent, but we are highly attuned to their workings – both in the world at large and right here within our own bodies. Meanwhile, cutting-edge microbiome research is changing our understanding of reality, challenging fundamental concepts of free will and individuality. Threaded through everything are microbes: the very glue that holds ecosystems together.
This topical, engaging and original book counters the prevailing narrative of microbes as the bane of society, along the way providing much-needed clarity on the overwhelmingly beneficial role they play. We discover how the microbiome is highly relevant to environmental and social equity issues, while there's also discussion about how microbes may influence our decisions: even the way we think about how we think may need to be revisited. Invisible Friends introduces the reader to a vast, pullulating cohort of minute life – friends you never knew you had.
Jake M. Robinson is a microbial ecologist based in the UK. In 2021, he received a PhD from the University of Sheffield. He is passionate about researching microbes, ecosystems, social equity issues and the connections between them, and at the same time is keen to develop ways to conserve and restore nature. Invisible Friends is his first book.
"With vivid detail, Dr Robinson has synthesized volumes of international research on microbes – the end result is a concise, reader-friendly page-turner that will be of interest to a full spectrum of readers, from the general public to clinicians to researchers looking for the next big idea! Invisible Friends is just like the microbial world that surrounds us – a companion filled to the brim with marvelous potential!"
– Prof. Susan Prescott, author of The Secret Life of Your Microbiome