Plant Fungal Pathogens: Methods and Protocols . , ( eds ) 664 pp. £112·50/US$159/€124·95. ISBN 978 1 61779 500 8 . Heidelberg, Germany : Springer Verlag , 2012 ( hardback ).
The Springer Protocols are a series of books that have been published since 1984, and there are now over 800 volumes in this series. The purpose of this series has been to provide individual volumes that describe detailed practical procedures for a particular subject area, such that each method described could be used by competent scientists who are unfamiliar with them at the first attempt by following the step-by-step guides. In addition, the protocols are written with notes that provide supplementary information and guidance on what sort of problems might be encountered in the protocol and how to overcome them.
This volume contains 41 chapters, each written by experts in the field, and covers a broad range of protocols for working with plant pathogenic fungi. These range from methods for microscopic examination of fungal infections, through fungal transformation, targeted gene replacement, detection and quantification methods to proteomic, metabolomic, massively parallel sequencing and bioinformatics protocols. The scope of the volume is impressive and the protocols are generally well written and edited so that they would be easy to follow and could be applied to a range of different plant pathogenic fungi. One criticism that could be made is that the chapters do not seem to be organized into any particular logical order. For example, both chapters 2 and 16 are on targeted gene replacement, the first focusing on using Agrobacterium tumefaciens as the means of transformation and the second focusing on a split-marker approach for selection. For the scientist who is new to the field and unfamiliar with the specifics of these techniques, it might be confusing finding two chapters in different places in the volume on techniques for the same basic purpose, with no explanation as to which might be most useful for a particular scenario. Similarly, there is a range of protocols presented for studies on effectors/secreted proteins, but not in any clear logical order. Perhaps some introductory overview chapter by the editors and the incorporation of the chapters into a themed order in the book might have been useful. However, the individual protocols are up-to-date, well-presented and the range of topics covered is comprehensive, and the target readership of those new to the field of molecular plant pathology as well as experienced fungal researchers should find this volume very helpful.