NML microbiologist pens textbook chapters

Bernard K*. “Coryneform Gram-Positive Rods (Chapter 29)” and “General Approaches to the Identification of Aerobic Gram-Positive Rods (Chapter 26)” in Manual of Clinical Microbiology 12th ed. Editors Carroll et al. (Washington DC: American Society for Microbiology, 2019). Print and pdf formats.

This science story examines one example of how the National Microbiology Laboratory provides national and global leadership in scientific excellence and demonstrates the breadth of microbial expertise within the organization. The knowledge shared in this publication provides clinical microbiologists with definitive information on how to test for pathogens. Accurate diagnostics are the root of public health efforts to control the spread of disease.

What was known about this area prior to your work, and why was the research done?

The American Society of Microbiology (ASM) is the oldest and largest life science society in the world. Its mission is to promote and advance microbial sciences through educational and scientific endeavours. ASM partly accomplishes this mission by publishing reference textbooks on microbial sciences. One such product, the Manual of Clinical Microbiology (MCM) is described as the seminal reference of microbiology. It is filled with current findings regarding infectious agents, leading-edge diagnostic methods, laboratory practices, and safety guidelines. The MCM undergoes rounds of revision by a collaborative, international, interdisciplinary team of editors and authors. The most recent edition has two chapters penned at the NML. The head of NML’s Special Bacteriology unit has co-written the Coryneform chapter since the 7th edition. This role evolved to sole authorship for the current 12th edition.

This science story focuses on two chapters (26 and 29) of the MCM that provide information about isolation methods, prevalence, clinical significance, antimicrobial susceptibility trends and identification methods for a wide variety of bacteria described as aerobic Gram-positive rods, such as Corynebacterium species and related organisms.

What are your most significant findings from this work?

The new edition provided an opportunity to update information about Corynebacterium as an emerging pathogen. Over the past three decades, these bacteria were nearly always dismissed as contaminants or as organisms that do not cause harm to humans. Now, Corynebacterium are acknowledged as emerging or occasional, opportunistic pathogens which can be difficult to treat due to multi-drug resistance. The 12th edition also includes an updated review of test methods for Corynebacterium from traditional to leading-edge technologies. MCM Editors ensure contributors review an extensive array of test methods in order to meet the needs of a wide scale of diagnostic laboratory capabilities. MCM authors must research and add descriptions for newly-described genera and species, new infections caused by existing species and document changes in naming conventions for existing species. Edition iterations undergo rounds of review to ensure the content is current and cited information is from reliable, peer-reviewed sources. These types of updates and exhaustive review are examples of why the MCM continues to be the authoritative reference in the field of microbiology.

What are the implications or impact of the research?

The highly respected MCM textbook is used as a reference resource by laboratories the world over. However, you don’t have to look far from home to see its utility. The NML Special Bacteriology unit routinely studies all the taxa cited in the Coryneform chapter and use the 12th edition as a go-to reference in their day-to-day work. The information in the MCM guides clinicians to correctly identify common and rare infectious agents, a necessary first step to prevent the transmission of infections and disease. With the newly placed importance on the emergence of Corynebacterium as a pathogen, microbiologists will benefit from the in-depth information the 12th edition provides.

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