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I've gotten a staggering amount of use out of my copy of Fields Virology as a general reference for "getting me up to speed" on whatever pathogen I'm currently looking at. I don't know of a similar type of reference for bacteria, but I only became aware of Fields as I was moving out of the field, rather than into it, so it's possible I've simply never heard of a suitable reference.

Any suggestions?

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I might as well give this as an answer: the closest analog to Fields for bacteriology that I'm aware of are the two Bergey's manuals: Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, and Bergey's Manual of Determinative Bacteriology. They deal with taxonomy and identification of bacteria (and even cyanobacteria and archaeans), with some emphasis on the medically important classes.

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The Manual of Clinical Microbiology from ASM is the bible we use in our Micro lab. It's often our first reference. There are a lot of other useful books in the ASM eStore.

ASM eStore

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