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Cover Microbes to the Rescue
series "Intersezioni"
pp. 248, Brossura, 978-88-15-38922-0
publication year 2024

DUCCIO CAVALIERI , RINO RAPPUOLI, LISA VOZZA

Microbes to the Rescue

Surviving the Anthropocene

A trillion species of microorganisms support all life on Earth and make the planet habitable. In fact, the number of estimated species is growing due to recent technological advances identifying an immense variety of species. Without microbes, we would not have bread, wine, beer, nor be able to dispose of waste. Above all, we simply would not exist. Microbes inhabit not only our intestines but also our immune systems, which require continuous microbial contact to distinguish friend from foe. When this intimate relationship breaks down, we get sick. A minority of species (about 1,400) cause infections, and we use tools of mass destruction such as antibiotics, disinfectants, and detergents to eliminate them. In doing so, we also destroy harmless and even beneficial microbes, whereas more dangerous species can resist treatment. We need more ecological and targeted solutions against infections to preserve global microbial diversity. We must strike a balance between what we call the Anthropocene and the Microbiocene, an era that began nearly four billion years ago and will endure as long as there is life on Earth.

Duccio Cavalieri teaches Microbiology at the University of Florence and is an expert in genome sequencing techniques.

Rino Rappuoli is a microbiologist and the chief scientific officer at the Biotecnopolo of Siena Foundation.

Lisa Vozza is a writer of popular science and the chief scientific officer at the AIRC Foundation for Cancer Research.

Premessa
I. Chi vorrebbe vivere in un mondo senza microbi?
II. Microrganismi, questi sconosciuti
III. Alla scoperta di un regno vastissimo e antichissimo
IV. Una convivenza necessaria e opportuna
V. Siamo quello che mangiamo, batteri inclusi
VI. Microbi, imprescindibili strumenti di maturazione immunitaria
VII. Quando l’educazione del sistema immunitario è disturbata
VIII. La resistenza antimicrobica: una pandemia lenta ma inesorabile?
IX. Come affrontare in modo sostenibile la resistenza agli antibiotici
X. Salvare il microbiocene per uscire indenni dall’antropocene
Bibliografia essenziale