Glorious History of Microbiology

History of Microbiology

Microbiology has had an extended, wealthy historical past, initially centered within the causes of infectious ailments however now together with sensible purposes of the science. Many people have made important contributions to the event of microbiology.

In the earliest time, people believed that lives originated from nonliving materials, such as air and sins or bad odors, spirits are responsible for the disease.


In the first century BC, Varo and Columella was the first person who assumed that diseases are caused by some invisible species.

In 1546, Fracastorius of Verona suggested that a contagium vivum was a possible cause of infectious disease. In 1762, Von Plenciz proposed that different species are responsible for each disease.


Historians are uncertain who made the primary observations of microorganisms, however, the microscope was accessible throughout the mid‐1600s, and an English scientist named Robert Hooke made key observations. 

Discovery of Microscope and Bacteria

In 1658, a German Jesuit scholar and polymath Athanasius Kircher was likely the first to see microbes. He mentioned that he observed microbes in milk and putrid material, and then In 1666,  Robert Hooke observed the fruiting bodies of molds.  He is reputed to have noticed strands of fungi among the many specimens of cells he considered.

History of Microbiology
Image: Robert Hooke | Image Source:

In the 1670s and the many years thereafter, a Dutch service provider named Anton van Leeuwenhoek made cautious observations of microscopic organisms, which he knew as animalcules. He observed these microorganisms using a single-lens microscope of his own design. 

Leeuwenhoek first discovered single cell lives, bacteria, lense, and more. Leeuwenhoek also called “the father of Microbiology” for his contributions in microbiology.


Until his death in 1723, van Leeuwenhoek revealed the microscopic world to scientists of the day and is considered one of many first to offer correct descriptions of protozoa, fungi, and microorganisms.

 History of Microbiology - Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Anton van Leeuwenhoek

You Might Like This Articles:


Spontaneous Generation theory and Transition Period

After van Leeuwenhoek died, the research of microbiology didn’t develop quickly as a result of microscopes had been rare and the curiosity in microorganisms was not excessive. In these years, scientists debated the idea of spontaneous generation, which acknowledged that microorganisms come up from nonliving matter similar to beef broth.

Francesco Redi - History of Microbiology
Image: Experiment of Francesco Redi | Image Source:

This principle was disputed by Francesco Redi, who confirmed that fly maggots don’t come up from decaying meat (as others believed) if the meat is roofed to stop the entry of flies, with his experiment with a piece of meat In 1668. 

Francesco Redi - History of Microbiology
Image: Experiment of Francesco Redi | Image Source:

An English cleric named John Needham proved Redi’s experiment wrong with his experiment by placing a broth in a bottle and heated it to kill all the microbes, then he sealed it. After a few days, he observed that the bottle contains lives. From this experiment, he proved that lives are formed spontaneously, which means lives are generated from nonliving materials.

An Italian scientist, Lazzaro Spallanzani disputed the idea by displaying that boiled broth wouldn’t give rise to microscopic types of life. He conducted an experiment and disproved the spontaneous generation theory.
Nicolas Appert (17 November 1749 – 1 June 1841) also supports the idea of Spallanzani’s work. He was a French inventor. He invented “airtight food preservation”, for his work he also called “father of canning”.

Lazzaro Spallanzani - History of Microbiology
Image: Experiment of Lazzaro Spallanzani

The Golden Age of Microbiology

In the late 1800s and for the primary decade of the 1900s, scientists seized the chance to further develop the germ principle of illness as enunciated by Pasteur and proved by Koch. There emerged a Golden Age of Microbiology throughout which many agents of various infectious illnesses have been recognized. Many of the etiologic agents of microbial illness have been found throughout that interval, resulting in the flexibility to halt epidemics by interrupting the unfolding of microorganisms.

Louis Pasteur - History of Microbiology
Image: Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur labored within the center and late 1800s. He carried out quite a few experiments to find why wine and dairy merchandise grew to become bitter, and he discovered that microorganisms have been accountable. 

Pasteur is known as considering the significance of microorganisms on a regular basis and stirred scientists to assume that if microorganisms might make the wine “sick,” then maybe they might trigger human sickness.

Pasteur needed to disprove spontaneous generation to maintain his principle, and he subsequently devised a collection of swan‐necked flasks full of broth. He left the flasks of broth open to the air, however, the flasks had a curve within the neck in order that microorganisms would fall into the neck, not the broth.

The flasks didn’t develop into contamination (as he predicted they might not), and Pasteur’s experiments put to relaxation the notion of spontaneous generation. His work additionally inspired the assumption that microorganisms have been within the air and will trigger illness. Pasteur postulated the germ principle of illness, which states that microorganisms are the causes of infectious illness.

Pasteur makes an attempt to show the germ idea has been unsuccessful. However, the German scientist Robert Koch offered proof by cultivating anthrax microorganisms other than some other kind of organism. He then injected pure cultures of the bacilli into mice and confirmed that the bacilli invariably triggered anthrax.

The procedures utilized by Koch got here to be generally known as Koch’s postulates. They offered a set of rules whereby different microorganisms may very well be associated with different ailments.

Robert Koch and Koch’s Postulates - History of Microbiology
Image: Robert Koch and Koch’s postulates

Koch’s assistant Fanne Eilshemius Hesse (1850 – 1934) first proposed that the agar can be used as culture media for microorganisms. Because agar has a higher melting (i.e. 96°C) and solidifying (i.e. 40-45°C) as compared to gelatine,(was used as a culture media in earliest time) and also agar not degraded by microorganisms.

In 1887, Richard Petri who was another assistant of Robert Koch, he invented the Petri dish (plate), which is used as a container for solid culture media.

During this period two scientists Ignaz Semmelweis and John Snow explained the mode of disease transmission.

Schulze (1815-1873) and Theodor Schwan (1810-1882) first experimentally proved that air is the main source of microorganisms. In their experiment they pass the air containing microorganism through hot glass tubes or strong chemicals into boiled infusions in flasks. In both cases the resulting air was free of microbes.

The techniques of cotton plug for microbial culture tubes were first introduced by two scientists George Schroeder and Theodor Von Dusch (1854).

When scientists were aware about disease causing infectious pathogens. They found that infectious disease is caused by microorganisms, they started to develop new aseptic techniques, medecins et.  

An English surgeon  Lord Joseph Lister (1827-1912) first introduced the antiseptic technique for surgical wounds, to prevent wound infections. In 1867, he developed this method, he used to spray phenol on surgical areas to prevent the microorganisms from entering wounds. Lister also used carbolic acid  to sterilize the air in the operation theatre.

Lord Joseph Lister - History of Microbiology
Image: phenol on surgical areas | Image source:

Despite the advances in microbiology, it was hardly ever potential to render life‐saving remedy to a contaminated affected person. Then, after World War II, antibiotics were launched to medication. The incidence of pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, syphilis, and plenty of different illnesses declined with the use of antibiotics.

Work with viruses couldn’t be successfully carried out till devices have been developed to assist scientists see these illness brokers. In the 1940s, the electron microscope was developed and perfected. In that decade, cultivation strategies for viruses have been additionally launched, and the information of viruses developed quickly. With the event of vaccines within the 1950s and 1960s, such viral illnesses as polio, measles, mumps, and rubella got here below management.

Development of Medical Microbiology

An English physician, Edward Jenner (1749-1823) first developed smallpox vaccine. In 1798, Jenner published his results on 23 successful vaccinators.

In 1883, Elie Metchnikoff (1845-1916) first proposed the phagocytic theory of immunity. Metchnikoff found that some blood leukocytes, white blood cells (WBC) fight against infectious disease by engulfing disease causing bacteria. 

Two notable French bacteriologists, Emile Roux (1853-1933) and Alexandre Yersin first demonstrate the toxin production by diphtheria organisms

In 1890, Emil von Behring (1854 -1917) and Shibasaburo Kitasato (1852-1931) discovered the tetanus (lock jaw) antitoxin. Within one week Von Behring discovered immunization against diphtheria by diphtheria antitoxin.

A Nobel prize-winning German physician and scientist, Paul Ehrlich (14 March 1854 – 20 August 1915) first discovered the cure for syphilis in 1909. He discovered arsphenamine (Salvarsan), which was an effective medicinal treatment for syphilis, this concept is called chemotherapy. Ehrlich named this concept as magic bullet. 

Ehrlich invented a precursor technique to Gram staining bacteria. This technique helps in distinguishing between different types of blood cells.

Gerhard Domagk of Germany in 1935 experimented with quite a few artificial dyes and reported that Prontosil, a crimson dye used for staining leather-based, was lively towards pathogenic, Streptococci and Staphylococci in mice despite the fact that it had no impact towards that very same infectious agent in a check tube.

In the same year two French scientists Jacques and Therese Trefonel confirmed that the compound Prontosil was damaged down throughout the physique of the animal to sulfanilamide (Sulfa drug) , the true lively issue. Domagk was awarded the Nobel prize in 1939 for the invention of the primary sulfa drug.

A Scottish physician and bacteriologist, Alexander Fleming discovered the first drug penicillin  in 1929. In 1944, Waksman discovered antibiotic streptomycin which is produced by two strains of actinomycete, Streptomyces griseus .

In 1947, Dr. Paul R. Burkholder found an antibiotic producing bacteria called Streptomyces venezuelae which produces antibiotic chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin). In 1948, Dr. B.M. Dugger found Aureomycin antibiotic producing bacteria S. aureofaciens . In 1950, Finlay, Hobby and collaborators found Terramycin from S. rimosus.

A dramatic flip in microbiology analysis was signaled by the demise of Robert Koch in 1910 and creation of World war I. The Pasteur Institute was closed, and the German laboratories transformed for manufacturing of blood elements used to deal with conflict infections. Thus got here to finish what many have known as the Golden Age of Microbiology.

Modern microbiology

Modern microbiology reaches into many fields of human endeavor, together with the event of pharmaceutical merchandise, using high quality‐management strategies in meals and dairy product manufacturing, the management of illness‐inflicting microorganisms in consumable waters, and the commercial functions of microorganisms. 

Microorganisms are used to provide nutritional vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and the development of dietary supplements. They manufacture many meals, together with fermented dairy merchandise (bitter cream, yogurt, and buttermilk), in addition to different fermented meals reminiscent of pickles, sauerkraut, breads, and alcoholic drinks.

One of the foremost areas of utilized microbiology is biotechnology. In this self-discipline, microorganisms are used as dwelling factories to provide prescribed drugs that in any other case couldn’t be manufactured.

These substances embody the human hormone insulin, the antiviral substance interferon, quite a few blood‐clotting components and clot-dissolving enzymes, and plenty of vaccines.

Bacteria may be reengineered to extend plant resistance to bugs and frost, and biotechnology will signify a serious software of microorganisms within the subsequent century.

Microorganism Speculation

Pre-microbiology, the chance that microorganisms existed was mentioned for a lot of centuries earlier than their precise discovery within the 17th century. The existence of unseen microbiological life was postulated by Jainism, which relies on Mahavira’s teachings as early as 6th century BCE.

In his first century guide, On Agriculture, Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro was the primary recognized to recommend the potential for illness spreading by but unseen organisms. 

In his guide, he warns towards finding a homestead close to swamps as a result of “there are bred certain minute creatures that cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases. ”

In The Canon of Medicine (1020), Abū Alī ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) hypothesized that tuberculosis and different ailments is likely to be contagious. In 1546, Girolamo Fracastoro proposed that epidemic ailments had been attributable to transferable seed-like entities that might transmit infection by direct or oblique contact, and even without contact over lengthy distances.

All these early claims in regard to the existence of microorganisms had been speculative and weren’t based mostly on any knowledge or science.

Microorganisms had been neither confirmed, noticed, nor appropriately and precisely described until the 17th century. The cause for this was that each one of these early research lacked the microscope.

Name of Microbiologists

Microbiologists Contribution
Robert Hooke (1635 – 1703)Robert Hooke FRS was an English scientist and architect, a polymath, recently called “England’s Leonardo”, who, using a microscope, was the first to visualize a microorganism.
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723)First acknowledged microscopist. He was the first to observe microscopic organisms, using simple single-lensed microscopes of his own design.
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729–1799)Proved that bacteria did not arise due to spontaneous generation by developing a sealed, sterile broth medium.
Edward Jenner (1749–1823)vaccination techniques against smallpox.
Hans Christian Gram (1853–1938)Developed the Gram stain
Ignaz Semmelweis (1818–1865)Demonstrated that doctors washing their hands with chlorine solutoin significantly reduced mortality of women giving birth in the hospital setting.
Charles Lavaran (1845–1922)Discoveried the causative agents of malaria and trypanosomiasis.
Joseph Lister (1827–1912)He discover the techniques of antiseptic treatment of wounds.
Louis Pasteur (1822–1895)Seminal discoveries in vaccination, food safety, and microbial fermentatoion. A key proponent of the germ theory of disease.
Fanny Hesse(1850–1934)Developed agar for use in culturing bacteria.
Martinus Beijerinck (1851–1931)Discovered the first virus as well as bacterial nitrogen fixation and sulfate reduction.
Marjory Stephenson (1885–1948)Pioneer of bacterial metabolism.
Kiyoshi Shiga (1871–1957)Discovered a bacterium causing an outbreak of dysentery.
Emil Adolf von Behring (1854–1917)1901 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering diphtheria antitoxin.
Sir Ronald Ross (1857–1932)1902 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes
Robert Koch (1843–1910)identified causative agents of tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax.
Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran (1845–1922)recognizing parasitic protozoa as the causes of malaria and African sleeping sickness.
Dr. Paul R. Burkholderantibiotic producing bacteria called Streptomyces venezuelae which produces antibiotic chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin)
Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1857–1940)discovered the neurosyphilis could be treated by inducing fever with malaria parasites.
Charles Jules Henri Nicolle (1866–1936)determining that typhus is transmitted by body lice.
Gerhard Domagk (1895–1964)discovering the first commercially available antibiotic: prontosil.
Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955)discovering penicillin.
Sir Ernst Boris Chain (1906–1979)1945 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering penicillin.
Howard Walter Florey (1898–1968)1945 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering penicillin.
Max Theiler (1899–1972)developing a vaccine against yellow fever.
Selman Abraham Waksman (1888–1973)identifying streptomycin and other antibiotics.



Leave a Comment

Our Domain,, has now change to
This domain will be Unavailable, All the posts from this website are transferred to the new domain. Enjoy study
Important notice
Overlay Image
Our website,, has now change to
This domain will be Unavailable, All the posts from this website are transferred to the new domain. Enjoy study
Overlay Image

Adblocker detected! Please consider reading this notice.

We've detected that you are using AdBlock Plus or some other adblocking software which is preventing the page from fully loading.

We don't have any banner, Flash, animation, obnoxious sound, or popup ad. We do not implement these annoying types of ads!

We need money to operate the site, and almost all of it comes from our online advertising.

Please add to your ad blocking whitelist or disable your adblocking software.