In the Dunn lab we have worked for the last decade to study the life in homes. We have swabbed belly buttons, searched under beds, looked into shower heads, and scrubbed refrigerators, all for science.  It is only recently though, led by Anne Madden, that we have begun to focus in on those species in homes likely to have the most value to society. The life around you in your home and backyard includes species of enormous value to society as well as species that will someday have such value.  In doing so, we have found species that can turn waste into energy, species that can make new kinds of beers and breads, species able to help food stay safe and healthy on shelves longer, in short, species able to sweeten and improve our lives.

In a new book, Dr. Anne’s Book of Common Microbes and their Wonders, Anne will tell the story of some of the common species in homes, species she finds beautiful, interesting, and noteworthy, species she dreams happily about. Anne tells the stories of these species in the context of her own research, which has included both riding on a motorcycle with a live wasp nest in a bag on her back, sniffing petri dishes for the one that might have just the right aromas necessary to make the perfect beer, and performing the world’s largest study of the distribution of dust mites.The book will be a short compendium of the life around you, a bouquet of microbial flowering. It will include images of these species, but also art that conveys the other ways you can appreciate them, whether it be their aromas, their tastes or even, believe it or not, their textures.

The book will be written in partnership with Lea Shell and Rob Dunn.

To sign up to hear more when the status of this book changes (for example when a sample chapter is available), click here .

To donate to this effort, email here: with “Donation” in the title.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out Anne’s TED talk.

Header Image Credit: TED / Bret Hartman

Image Credit: Anne A. Madden (What is it? Most are Actinobacteria – a group of back yard soil bacteria that naturally make many of the antibiotics on the market.)