somewhat out of date. Interestingly enough, it is still in print and sells very well. It is only out of date in that it does not include information on new organisms that have been described since then. However, it has a lot of valuable information on the older organisms, including many of the organisms that people deal with in clinical situations, in industry, and especially in university teaching laboratories.
In the last eight or nine years, we have been involved in producing a second edition of Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology. This is a much more substantial publication, and this second edition will comprise five volumes. Volume 1 was published in 2001, Volume 2 was published in 2005, and Volume 3 was published last week. Volume 4 is in press and should be also published by early 2010. We hope to have Volume 5 completed in 2010 as well.
This second edition is being published by Springer. It is an interesting publication deal because we do everything up to the point of the typesetting and then deal directly with the commercial typesetter, which prints it, and Springer distributes it. In short, it is not the typical academic book situation where the editor collects the manuscripts and sends them to the publisher, which takes it from there.
This five-volume work has approximately 600 individual authors involved. The authors, who are from many countries around the world, are each experts in a particular taxonomic group. They assemble the information on each organism described in the literature and then write about it for the publication. This approach guarantees that the information comes directly from the experts, the people who have done the most work with the particular organisms and may be presumed know the most about it. It is quite an achievement to get all these people together to write for the publication. The book is aimed at a global audience of microbiologists and other professionals who work in such areas as the biodiversity of microorganisms and the animal and human health community, as well as at undergraduate and graduate students.
The trust has a variety of other activities as well. We publish a taxonomic outline, as I mentioned before. It is available on our website (www.bergeys.org) and shows a total hierarchical structure from the high-level taxa down to the genus level for all of the bacteria and the archaea. We also give out a number of awards. The Bergey’s Award is given each year to a young to middle-aged scientist who has made a significant contribution to bacterial taxonomy. The Bergey’s Medal recognizes senior scientists who have had a lifetime commitment to the field of systematic bacteriology. And we promote the field of bacterial taxonomy by sponsoring sessions at meetings and having experts from various places participate.
To give you an idea of what the five-volume Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology has to offer, Volume 3 describes 240 genera and 1,346 species belonging to the phylum Firmicutes, which are also known as the low G+C Gram- positive bacteria. This includes a number of well known bacteria, such as Bacillus and Clostridium and Streptococcus species. More generally, the book describes many medically and industrially important organisms. I know that many people have been waiting for this book for quite some time.
Each volume is organized with a taxonomic outline at the beginning, followed by descriptions of all taxa that fall within the part of the phylogenetic tree covered by that particular volume. We describe the upper-level taxa—the phylum, the classes, the orders, and the families—and then the lower-level taxa, the genera, species, and subspecies. In some cases there are serovars and pathovars described as well.