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Microbial Ecology Exemplifies Building Ecology

Recent advances in molecular methods have dramatically improved knowledge of the microbial communities and their diversity in indoor environments. We have retrieved over 150 references with results of indoor microbial investigations and environmental factors. Representative papers are summarized here. The results show that buildings are complex, ecosystem-like, and that collaboration between microbial ecologists and indoor environment scientists is an important emerging trend that will help us understand building ecology.

Hal Levin and Richard Corsi

INTRODUCTION
Over three decades of molecular-phylogenetic studies, researchers have compiled an increasingly robust map of evolutionary diversification showing that the main diversity of life is microbial, distributed among three primary relatedness groups or domains: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. The application of molecular-phylogenetic methods to study natural microbial ecosystems without the traditional requirement for cultivation has resulted in the discovery of many unexpected evolutionary lineages; members of some of these lineages are only distantly related to known organisms but are sufficiently abundant that they are likely to have impact on the chemistry of the biosphere. (Pace, 1997)

Recent advances in molecular methods have dramatically improved knowledge of the microbial communities and their diversity in indoor environments. Molecular methods are useful to identify bacteria (and other microbes) in water damaged homes and other buildings and to characterize seasonal variations in community compositions of microbial species. These recent advances suggest great potential for rapidly advancing knowledge related to microbial communities in buildings. Such advances should be driven by microbiologists working with building scientists. (Corsi, 2012)


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