The term microbes covers all the organisms too small to be seen by the naked eye, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and unicellular protoctista. "Microbes in Action" examines the general characteristics of these organisms and provides detailed examples from each group. Despite their small size, microbes are extremely important since they carry out processes essential for the survival of all life. This book shows how they are used in the environment, in biotechnology, genetic engineering, biodeterioration and preservation, and disease. It highlights the economic, social and ethical issues raised by these applications. Although most microbes are harmless to humans, and some are indispensable - life as we know it could not proceed without them - a few are harmful. The importance of safe working practices when dealing with microbes is explained and specialized lab techniques are illustrated. Throughout, the information and processes are explained using line drawings, photographs, electron micrographs, flow diagrams and notes. Answers are included for the questions within the text and a glossary is provided.