The Hidden Half of Nature by David R. MontgomeryA new book by Earth and Space Sciences‘ David Montgomery weaves history, science and personal challenges into an exploration of humanity’s tangled relationship with microbes, perhaps the least loved and most misunderstood creatures on Earth—and in you.

The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health” comes out Nov. 16 from W.W. Norton & Co. Montgomery, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences, co-wrote the book with his wife, Anne Biklé, a biologist and environmental planner. From restoring the soil in their urban yard to building a garden, to grappling with a cancer diagnosis for Biklé, the authors share their discoveries about the unfolding revolution of microbiome science and how it transformed their view of nature — and themselves.

The book recounts the heyday of microbiology that led to germ theory and how, by the late 20th century, scientists changed the tree of life to reflect the dominance of microbial life. It then focuses on the new understanding of microbes now emerging from seemingly unrelated fields such as plant science and immunology. Drawing on this latest work, the authors see stunning similarities between the root of a plant and the human gut that are both profound and fundamental.

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