Document Type

Popular Press

Publication Date

October 2014

Journal or Book Title

Microbe

Volume

9

Issue

10

Abstract

Herbert W. Conn (1859–1917) made outstanding contributions to both microbiology and evolutionary biology, reflecting his intellectual command of several biological disciplines. Conn endeavored to make the unseen world of microbes familiar, real, and consequential to members of the general public. He presciently considered the role of bacteria in our own bodies, describing them as being both harmful and beneficial to our health. He also contributed to our understanding of the concept of species, how they originate, and what those ideas might mean in terms of bacterial speciation. In Conn’s spirit, microbial ecologists studying speciation eschew the “species” taxa of bacterial systematics, considering it to be too broadly defined to allow investigation of the origins of diversity.

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