Science Textbook Review: Instant notes In Microbiology by J. Nicklin, R. Graeme-Cook & R. Killington

Instant Notes in Microbiology, by Nicklin, Graeme-Cook and Killington, is another one in the well thought-of Instant Notes series of life sciences textbooks. It is published by BIOS Scientific Publishers, Ltd. My own degree was in Biochemistry, but I did enough in the way of microbiology modules and modules with an element of microbiology, for me to consider this particular resource a worthwhile purchase.


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So what is Instant Notes in Microbiology like as a condensed guide to the subject for the new or prospective student? As you might expect, it covers the main areas: a look at what microbes are, microbial metabolic pathways and cycles, the replication of genetic material via transcription and translation and DNA activity, types and uses, types and structure of bacteria, environmental interaction, and a detailed examination of eukaryotic microbes and viruses. It does have its limits: it's more of the theory of microbiology that gets covered, and it's not a lab workbook giving details on microbiology lab equipment, pipetting techniques and samples.


In The Lab

Public domain image.
Public domain image. | Source

Essential Biology and Life Sciences Guides: Are The Instant Notes Books Useful?

How is the book set out? Well, as mentioned, the Instant Notes series aims to provide a condensed, essential guide to the core subject matter for each area covered per book. Instant Notes in Microbiology is broken down into general areas, then further into individual chapters. I do think that the most notable aspect of the Instant Notes series is the Key Notes section to be found at the beginning of every chapter. In this section the chapter’s material is reduced down to its very essence: great for when you really need to have the bare bones of a subject available at short notice!


Do You Need Some Help Learning the Essentials of Microbiology?

The chapters are set out clearly with appropriate and helpful black and white illustrations. (The illustrations of metabolic cycles and pathways are something that I have found particularly useful in making things clear and aiding comprehension.) As a biochemistry student I also found the detailed and thorough chapters on viruses also very relevant to my studies.

What is Instant Notes In Microbiology useful for? Well, if you are, or are planning to be, a microbiology student, then I wouldn’t be relying it as your sole text-book (and certainly not for the duration of your course). But then, you probably weren’t planning on doing that anyway! But, as a great basic guide to the core material necessary for any new student of microbiology, it can serve as an adjunct to the textbooks and reading lists provided by your tutors – and a massively helpful one at that. When you need to sort out the essential material that you really need to know, from what amounts to extraneous details – Instant Notes guides are a wonderful thing to have!

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