History of bacteriology::Bacteria


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Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the first microbiologist and the first person to observe bacteria using a microscope.

Bacteria were first observed by the Dutch microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1676, using a single-lens microscope of his own design.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> He then published his observations in a series of letters to the Royal Society of London.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> Bacteria were Leeuwenhoek's most remarkable microscopic discovery. They were just at the limit of what his simple lenses could make out and, in one of the most striking hiatuses in the history of science, no one else would see them again for over a century.<ref>Asimov, Isaac (1982), Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2nd edition, Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, pg 143.</ref> Only then were his by-then-largely-forgotten observations of bacteria — as opposed to his famous "animalcules" (spermatozoa) — taken seriously.

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg introduced the word "bacterium" in 1828.<ref> Ehrenberg's Symbolae Physioe. Animalia evertebrata. Decas prima. Berlin, 1828.</ref> In fact, his Bacterium was a genus that contained non-spore-forming rod-shaped bacteria,<ref name=status>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> as opposed to Bacillus, a genus of spore-forming rod-shaped bacteria defined by Ehrenberg in 1835.<ref>EHRENBERG (C.G.): Dritter Beitrag zur Erkenntniss grosser Organisation in der Richtung des kleinsten Raumes. Physikalische Abhandlungen der Koeniglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin aus den Jahren 1833–1835, 1835, pp. 143–336.</ref>

Louis Pasteur demonstrated in 1859 that the growth of microorganisms causes the fermentation process, and that this growth is not due to spontaneous generation. (Yeasts and molds, commonly associated with fermentation, are not bacteria, but rather fungi.) Along with his contemporary Robert Koch, Pasteur was an early advocate of the germ theory of disease.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }} </ref>

Robert Koch, a pioneer in medical microbiology, worked on cholera, anthrax and tuberculosis. In his research into tuberculosis Koch finally proved the germ theory, for which he received a Nobel Prize in 1905.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> In Koch's postulates, he set out criteria to test if an organism is the cause of a disease, and these postulates are still used today.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>

Though it was known in the nineteenth century that bacteria are the cause of many diseases, no effective antibacterial treatments were available.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> In 1910, Paul Ehrlich developed the first antibiotic, by changing dyes that selectively stained Treponema pallidum — the spirochaete that causes syphilis — into compounds that selectively killed the pathogen.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> Ehrlich had been awarded a 1908 Nobel Prize for his work on immunology, and pioneered the use of stains to detect and identify bacteria, with his work being the basis of the Gram stain and the Ziehl–Neelsen stain.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

A major step forward in the study of bacteria came in 1977 when Carl Woese recognized that archaea have a separate line of evolutionary descent from bacteria.<ref name=Woese1977>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> This new phylogenetic taxonomy depended on the sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA, and divided prokaryotes into two evolutionary domains, as part of the three-domain system.<ref name="Woese"/>

Bacteria sections
Intro  Etymology  Origin and early evolution  Morphology  Cellular structure  Metabolism  Growth and reproduction  Genetics  Behavior  Classification and identification  Interactions with other organisms  Significance in technology and industry  History of bacteriology  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

History of bacteriology
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