History of Microbiology

  • Zacharias Janssen

    Zacharias Janssen
    Zacharias Janssen is CREDITED with making one of the first compound microscopes. It is not well known if he believed in biogenesis or spontaneous generation. However, his invention led to the rejection of spontaneous generation.
  • Robert Hooke

    Robert Hooke
    He discovered cells, and this marked the beginning of the cell theory. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Francesco Redi

    Francesco Redi
    He began the debate over whether large forms of life could arise from nonlife. He did this with an experiment to disprove spontaneous generation. He was a believer of biogenesis.
  • Anton van Leeuwenhoek

    Anton van Leeuwenhoek
    Leeuwenhoek is known as the Father of Microbiology. He sparked interest among the scientific community of the origin of microorganisms. He did this by publicizing his observations of the microorganisms. In fact, he observed through microscopes he constructed. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Carolus Linnaeus

    Carolus Linnaeus
    Carlolus Linnaeus established the system of nomenclature we use today for naming organisms. It is not well known if he was supportive of spontaneous generation or biogenesis. However, it can be said that spontaneous generation was still a widespread belief into the 1800's. Based on the time of 1735, it is safe to say that Linnaeus was likely not supportive of biogenesis quite yet.
  • Lazzaro Spallanzani

    Lazzaro Spallanzani
    He demonstrated that microbes do not spontaneously generate. He did this by copying an experiment by John Needham, but making a small change that made a huge difference. He sealed the experiment flasks, which led to no microbial growth. He likely boiled them hotter as well. With this experiment, he proved that microbes float in the air, and if sealed, no life can form. He was a believer in biogenesis.
  • Edward Jenner

    Edward Jenner
    Jenner discovered vaccination. The vaccination was for smallpox, and it created a basis for how we prevent many diseases today. Without this contribution, life we have today may not be the same. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg

    Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg
    Ehrenberg was the first to apply the word "bacteria" to the bacteria we know today. The first observed bacteria were rod shaped, so Ehrenberg got the term bacteria from a Greek word with the meaning of "little stick". He believed in biogenesis.
  • Rudolph Virchow

    Rudolph Virchow
    Rudolph Virchow brought the concept of biogenesis to the table with the hypothesis that living cells can only arise from other preexisting living cells. He would most definitely be a supporter of biogenesis.
  • Louis Pasteur

    Louis Pasteur
    Louis Pasteur backed up Virchow's concept of biogenesis. Through experiments, Pasteur demonstrated that microbes exist in the air and have the ability to contaminate through the air, but that the air itself does not generate microbes. He was a supporter of biogenesis.
  • Joseph Lister

    Joseph Lister
    Lister introduced the concept of antisepsis/asepsis. This was a major breakthrough and is a standard in healthcare today. Antiseptic chemicals and techniques prevent infections because they are designed to destroy microorganisms and/or to prevent contamination by such microorganisms. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Ferdinand Cohn

    Ferdinand Cohn
    Cohn proved that thermoresistant endospores in Bacillus subtilis were capable of surviving strong heat and germinating to form new bacilli. This is important because we know now that some forms of bacteria must be killed with certain levels of heat. This is where we get the method of heat sterilization. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Angelina Fanny Hesse

    Angelina Fanny Hesse
    Although Fanny Hesse is not widely recognized for her contribution to microbiology, she played a crucial role in the development of agar. She was the first to suggest the use of agar to use as a culture media. She helped develop it as well. Her husband, Walther Hesse brought her idea to light as an assistant to Robert Koch. They were both assistants to Robert Koch. She believed in biogenesis.
  • Hans Gram

    Hans Gram
    Gram, hence the name, created the Gram staining technique we use today. This is an enormous contribution to microbiology because we still use this today. This technique allows us to differentiate between two major classes of bacteria. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Theodor Escherich

    Theodor Escherich
    Theodor Escherich discovered Escherichia coli (named after him), which is an important event in understanding populations of intestinal bacteria. Today, we must stay educated on how hand hygiene plays a major role in food preparation, as there are still cases of E. coli contamination today. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Robert Koch

    Robert Koch
    Koch gave us Koch's postulates, a set of criteria that helps guide the study of microorganism-disease relationships. This is important in establishing whether a particular microorganism is responsible for causing a particular disease. He believed in biogenesis and germ theory of disease.
  • Martinus Beijerinck

    Martinus Beijerinck
    Beijerinck is one of the two biologists credited with discovering viruses. We will focus on him for this event. While experimenting, he discovered this new (at the time it was new) infectious organism and called it a virus. He also introduced the concept that viruses were small and infectious. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Paul Ehrlich

    Paul Ehrlich
    Ehrlich put forth the concept of the "magic bullet" in 1907, and used it in developing a treatment for syphilis. This concept was crucial to our modern understanding of how to target treat illness without causing harm to our entire body. This paved the road for the concept of chemotherapy. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Alexander Fleming

    Alexander Fleming
    Fleming discovered penecillin. This is important because it was the first form of antibiotics. Without antibiotics, simple infections could turn deadly. He believed in biogenesis.
  • Maurice Hilleman

    Maurice Hilleman
    Hilleman contributed greatly to microbiology. Vaccines are important in microbiology because the vaccines are made from dead/inactive microbes. Hilleman's daughter got a case of the mumps in 1963, and he made a mumps vaccine using a sample from her. In his career he developed more than 40 lifesaving vaccines. He believed in biogenesis.