Timeline of bacteriology

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This is a timeline of bacteriology, attempting to describe important events in the development of the field. For the treatment of bacterial diseases, visit Timeline of antibiotics.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
17th century Experimental explorations with microorganisms is already conducted in this century.[1]
18th century Botanists and zoologists try to structure and classify the world of the invisible living organisms.[1]
1854–1920 This period is known as the "golden age of microbiology", in which standardized microbiological techniques are developed and most of the disease-causing bacteria are discovered. Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch stand out as the great scientists in the field.[2] German physician Robert Koch introduces the science of microorganisms to the medical field, identifying bacteria as the cause of infectious diseases and process of fermentation in diseases. French Scientist Louis Pasteur develops techniques to produce vaccines.
1940s The genetics of bacteriophages begin to be studied vigorously, after the development of techniques for the study of bacteriophage infection in single bacteria.[3]
1990s The first bacterium genome is sequenced.[4]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Geographical location
2 billion BC A bacterium becomes symbiotic with the cell from which animals and plants later develop. Chromosomes from this bacterium’s mitochondria would later carry 37 genes in the human body.[5]
220 million BC Bacteria and single-celled animals and plants from this period become encased in tree resin on the northern edge of the Tethys Ocean. Scientists in 2006 study the organisms in amber of this time from a town in the Italian Dolomites. Ciliates and amoeba in the amber appear identical to modern examples.[5]
1590 Scientific development Dutch spectacle-maker Zacharias Janssen and his brother Hans Janssen produce the operational compound microscope.[6]
1676 Scientific development Dutch merchant Antony Van Leeuwenhoek observes microorganisms using a single lens microscope designed by him and names them animalcules.[7] Van Leeuwenhoek is considered the first to discover microorganisms.[8]
1749 Scientific development English biologist John Needham indicates that bacteria and other microorganisms arose spontaneously from meat.[6][9][10][11] United Kingdom
1762 Scientific development Austrian medical doctor Marcus Antonius Von Plenciz in Vienna publishes a germ theory of infectious diseases and reports that each disease is caused by a separate organism.[6][12][2][13] Austria
1828 Scientific development German naturalist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg introduces new technical terms "bakterium/bakteria", replacing the vaguer "germ" and "miasma."[14][7][15]
1835 Scientific development Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg coins the term Bacillus to contain rod-shaped bacteria.[16][17][18]
1839 Scientific development German physiologist Theodor Schwann demonstrates the cellular basis of the body, asserting that all organs and tissues are composed of a multitude of structural units called cells.[19][20][21]
1840 Scientific development German pathologist Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle offers his theory of contagion by arguing that the "material of contagions is endowed with a life of its own, which is, in relation to the diseased body, a parasitic organism.[22]
1844 Scientific development Italian entomologist Agostino Bassi asserts that microorganisms cause human disease.[8]
1847 Publication Cranston R. Low and T.C. Dodds publish the illustrated Atlas of Bacteriology.[14]
1857 Scientific development German scientific instrument maker Carl Zeiss launches its first Zeiss compound microscope.[23] Germany
1858 Publication French biologist Louis Pasteur publishes Memoire sur la fermentation appelée lactique (Memoir on Lactic Fermentation) which is considered a foundation stone of the cell theory, microbiology, and bacteriology.[24][25] France
1865 Scientific development British surgeon Joseph Lister develops antiseptic surgery, which greatly increases survival rates.[26]
c.1868 Scientific development German botanist Ferdinand Cohn starts studying bacteria. From his accurate studies of their morphology, or bodily form, Cohn is among the first to attempt to arrange the different varieties of bacteria into genera and species on a systematic basis.[27] Cohn studies on algae and photosynthetic bacteria would lead him to describe several bacteria including Bacillus and Beggiatoa. The field of bacteriology is considered by many to have been founded by Ferdinand Cohn.[7]
1872 Scientific development German botanist Joseph Schroeter grows pigmented bacterial colonies on potato slices incubated in a moist environment.[28][29][30][31]
1872 Publication Ferdinand Cohn publishes Untersuchungen ueber Bacterien (Investigations on Bacteria).[14] Germany
1873 Scientific development Norwegian physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen identifies the acidfast bacillus (AFB) Mycobacterium leprae, the first bacterium to be implicated as a cause of a human infection.[31][32][33][34]
1876 Scientific development Louis Pasteur discards the theory of spontaneous generation and investigates the principles of the process later called pasteurization.[6] France
1876 Scientific development German physician and microbiologist Robert Koch in Berlin isolates the anthrax bacillus, and becomes the first to show a specific organism as the cause of a disease.[6][35][36][37] Germany
1877 Publication English microbiologist Edgar Crookshank publishes Manual of Bacteriology.[14] United Kingdom
1877 Scientific development Louis Pasteur notes that some bacteria produce substances that kill other bacteria, setting the basis of antibiotics.[38] France
1878 Scientific development Robert Koch observes bacteria bearing a close resemblance to staphylococci.[39]
1878 Scientific development British pioneer of antiseptic surgery Joseph Lister becomes the first person to obtain a pure culture of a bacterium (Streptococcus lactis) in a liquid medium. Lister isolates a pure culture from sour milk and names it Bacterium lactis.[40][41][42][43]
1878 Scientific development American botanist Thomas Jonathan Burrill, professor at the University of Illinois, describes the causative agent as a bacterium, demonstrating for the first time a bacterial disease of plants.[31][44][45][46] United States
1879 Scientific development German physician Albert Ludwig Sigesmund Neisser identifies what would later be called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the pathogen that causes gonorrhea.[31][47][48][49]
1880 Scientific development Louis Pasteur manages to isolate the bacterium responsible for chicken cholera and grows it in pure culture. [39][50][38] France
1880 Publication George M. Sternberg M.D. translation of Les bactéries becomes the first general bacteriology book in English.[51]
1881 Scientific development German Jewish physician Paul Ehrlich introduces the dye methylene blue into bacteriology.[52]
1881 Scientific development British surgeon Alexander Ogston, Professor at the University of Aberdeen, carries out the first detailed studies on staphylococci.[6] After injecting the bacteria into animals and producing experimental infections in the laboratory, Ogston links staphylococcus to the serious infections then called "hospital sepsis".[53][54] United Kingdom
1882 Scientific development German pathologist and microbiologist Carl Friedländer discovers the microorganism that he believes causes bacterial pneumonia. The organism would later be named Bacillus friedlanderi.[55][56][57]
1882 Scientific development Robert Koch discovers Mycobacterium tuberculosis as the cause of tuberculosis.[35]
1883 Publication Belfield publishes the first original general bacteriology book in English, On the Relations of Micro-organisms to Disease.[51]
1883 Scientific development Robert Koch leads an expedition to Egypt and India, and discovers bacterium Vibrio cholerae as the cause of cholera.[35] Egypt, India
1883 Scientific development French biochemists Ulysse Gayon and Gabriel Dupetit isolate in pure culture two strains of denitrifying bacteria, and show that individual organic compounds, such as sugars and alcohols, can replace complex organics and serve as reductants for nitrate, as well as serving as carbon sources.[31]
1884 Scientific development German Jewish internist Arthur Nicolaier discovers the causal agent of tetanus Clostridium tetani.[6][58][59][60] Germany
1884 Scientific development Danish bacteriologist Hans Christian Gram discovers a differential stain used the identification of bacteria.[6]
1884 Scientific development French microbiologist Charles Chamberland develops an unglazed porcelain filter that retains bacteria.[31]
1884 Scientific development Russian zoologist Élie Metchnikoff shows how amoeboid cells in the interstitial fluid and blood engulf organisms or microscopical foreign particles, so destroying the ingested bacteria in the phenomenon of phagocytosis, a term coined by him. Metchnikoff would propose a theory of cellular immunity.[31][61][62][63]
1885 Scientific development German-Austrian pediatrician Theodor Escherich identifies a bacterium, a natural inhabitant of the human gut, and names it Bacterium coli. Escherich shows that certain strains are responsible for infant diarrhea and gastroenteritis.[64][65][66]
1886 Scientific development German agricultural chemist Hermann Hellriegel and Hermann Wilfarth establish the relationship between legumes and nitrogen fixing bacteria.[6]
1886 Scientific development F. Frankel isolates Pneumococcus bacteria.[6][67]
1886 Publication E.M. Crookshank publishes An Introduction to Practical Bacteriology. Based Upon the Methods of Koch.[14] United States
1886 Scientific development American pathologist Theobald Smith isolates the gram-negative bacillus responsible for enteric typhoid.[14] United States
1887 Publication Loeffler publishes Geschichte zur Bakteriologie (History of Bacteriology).[14] Germany
1888 Scientific development The first work on nitrogen fixation by the root nodule bacteria is performed by Dutch microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck, who discovers bacteria living inside small lumps or nodules on the roots of Vicia and Lathyrus (yellow pea) plants.[6][68][69][70]
1889 Organization The Society of American Bacteriologists is founded.[14] United States
1890 Scientific development Ukrainian microbiologist Sergei Winogradsky first demonstrates N2 fixation by free living soil bacteria.[6]
1891 Scientific development Poland-born German botanist Walter Migula discoveres the gram-negative, flagellated-motile rod-like microbe, bacillus Pseudomonas sp, later renamed Pseudomonas pyocyaneas (aeruginosa), a dangerous "hospital pathogen.[14]
1891 Publication J. Buchanan publishes An Encyclopedia of the Practice of Medicine Based on Bacteriology.[14]
1892 Scientific development American bacteriologists William H. Welch and George Nuttall identify and isolate Clostridium perfringens, the organism responsible for causing gangrene.[31][71][72][73]
1892 Publication Alexander C. Abbott publishes The Principles of Bacteriology: A Practical Manual for Students and Physicians.[14] United States
1893 Publication British chemist Percy F. Frankland publishes Bacteriology in its Relations to Chemical Science.[14] United Kingdom
1893 Publication Volume 1 appears of Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, with both Rudolf Virchow and Élie Metchnikoff contributing to the opening issues.[14]
1893 Publication German bacteriologist Samuel Leopold Schenk in Vienna publishes Grundrisse der Bakteriologie fur Aertze und Studierende (Elements of Bacteriology for Practitioners and Students).[14] Austria
1893 Publication Russian bacteriologist Georgy Gabrichevsky in Saint Petersburg publishes Rukovodstvok klinicheskoj bacteriologii (Guide to Clinical Bacteriology for Doctors and Students).[14] Russia
1894 Scientific development Martinus Beijerinck isolates the first sulfate-reducing bacterium, Spirillum desulfuricans (Desulfovibrio desulfuricans). Beijerinck shows that this bacterium extracts energy by metabolizing sulfur compounds.[74][75][31]
1894 Publication American bacteriologist Frederick George Novy publishes Directions for Laboratory Work in Bacteriology.[14]
1894 Scientific development Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin discovers Pasteurella pestis.[6]
1894 Scientific development Japanese physician Kitasato Shibasaburō discovers the plague bacillus Yersinia pestis.[6][76][77][78] Hong Kong
1894 Scientific development German bacteriologist Richard Friedrich Johannes Pfeiffer discovers that when cholera bacteria are injected into the peritoneum of a guinea pig immunized against the infection, the pig rapidly dies.[31][79][80][81]
1895 Publication E.V. Freudenreich publishes Dairy Bacteriology: a Short Manual.[14]
1895 Scientific development Sergei Winogradsky isolates Clostridum pasteurianum, the first free-living nitrogen-fixing organism.[31][82][83][84]
1896 Scientific development Austrian scientist Max von Gruber and H. Durham first describe the agglutination of bacteria by their related immune sera.[31][85][86][87]
1898 Scientific development Japanese bacteriologist Shiga Kiyoshi discovers dysentery bacillus Shigella (named after him).[6][88][89][90] Japan
1900 Scientific development Shiga Kiyoshi develops a dysentery antiserum.[88] Japan
1904 Scientific development Dutch microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck obtains the first pure culture of sulfur-oxidizing bacterium, Thiobacillus denitrificans. Under anaerobic conditions it uses carbon dioxide as a source of carbon.[31]
1905 Scientific development Austrian bacteriologist Franz Schardinger isolates aerobic bacilli which produce acetone, ethanol, and acetic acid. These are important industrial chemicals.[31]
1905 Scientific development German zoologist Fritz Schaudinn and German germatologist Erich Hoffmann identify and describe the bacterium Treponema pallidum in patients with acute syphilis.[31][91][92][93]
1905 Scientific development Japanese biologist Shigetane Ishiwata discovers that the cause of a disease outbreak in silkworms is a new species of bacteria. Ishiwata names it Bacillus sotto (later called Bacillus thuringiensis).[31]
1906 Scientific development N. L. Sohngen manages to enrich two distinct acetate utilizing bacteria, finding that formate and hydrogen, plus carbon dioxide, could act as precursors for methane.[31][94][95][96]
1907 Publication Edward B. Voorhees and Jacob G. Lipman publish A Review of Investigations in Soil Bacteriology.[14] United States
1907 Scientific development Erwin Smith and C.O. Townsend discover that the Gram-negative soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a member of the eubacterial family Rhizobiaceae, is the organism responsible for the elicitation of crown gall tumors in plants.[31][97][98][99]
1908 Publication Samuel Cate Prescott and Charles Winslow publish Elements of Water Bacteriology.[14] United States
1908 Publication Edwin O. Jordan publishes A Text-Book of General Bacteriology.[14] United States
1909 Publication Professor Dr. A. Dieudonne and C.F. Bolduan in New York publish Bacterial Food Poisoning. A Concise Exposition of the Etiology, Bacteriology, Pathology, Symptomatology, Prophylaxis and Treatment of So-Called Ptomaine Poisoning.[14] United States
1909 Scientific development American pathologist Howard Taylor Ricketts describes the bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans. This organism, Rickettsia, is transmitted by ticks.[31][100][101]
1909 Publication E.R. Stitt publishes Practical Bacteriology, Blood Work and Animal Parasitology. The book includes bacteriological keys and clinical notes.[14] United States
1909 Scientific development Danish chemist Sigurd Orla-Jensen proposes that physiological characteristics of bacteria are of primary importance in their classification. Orla-Jensen's ideas, first published in the same year, are based on the assumption that the first organisms on Earth must have developed in the dark in an environment devoid of organic matter, therefore independent of the presence of other life forms. The only organisms known today to be capable of that are chemosynthetic bacteria.[31][102][103][104]
1910 Publication Emily Stoney publishes Bacteriological and Surgical Technique for Nurses.[14] United States
1910 Publication P. Hanson Hiss Jr. and Hans Zinsser publish The Textbook of Bacteriology.[14]
1910 Scientific development American plant Erwin Frink Smith publishes the earliest description of the pathogenic relationship of Corynebacterium michiganense to tomato.[6][105][106][107] Smith is considered to have played a major role in demonstrating that bacteria could cause plant disease.[108][109]
1912 Publication Albert Schneider in Philadelphia publishes Pharmaceutical Bacteriology with Special Reference to Disinfection and Sterilization.[14]
1912 Publication John Wright in Bristol publishes Public Health Chemistry and Bacteriology. A Handbook.[14] United Kingdom
1912 Publication Clemesha William Wesley publishes The Bacteriology of Surface Waters in the Tropics.[14]
1915 Virus discovery English bacteriologist Frederick Twort discovers the micrococcus phage and becomes the first to describe bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria).[110][111][112][113]
1916 Publication The Journal of Bacteriology is established.[14] United States
1920 Publication The Society of American Bacteriologists committee issues its final report on the characterization and classification of bacterial types.[31][114] United States
1923 Publication The Bergey's Manual of Determinative Bacteriology is published. It is written to provide a modern identification key for bacteria but little of it is based on direct experience of the organisms.[41]
1926 Scientific development American bacteriologist Thomas Milton Rivers, director of the Rockefeller Hospital, distinguishes between bacteria and viruses, establishing virology as a separate area of study.[31] Rivers announces the theory that viruses could not reproduce outside cells[115], and states that a virus needs a living tissue for reproduction.[116] United States
1926 Scientific development Team of scientists headed by Dr. Everitt Murray isolates from rabbits a bacterium that is responsible for listeriosis in humans. Named Bacterium monocytogenes in reference to the mononuclear leucocytosis observed in the affected animals, it would be later renamed Listeria monocytogenes in honor of Dr. Joseph Lister.[31][117][118][119]
1928 Scientific development Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovers antibiotic penicillin.[6][120][121][122] United Kingdom
1928 Scientific development English bacteriologist Frederick Griffith discovers transformation in bacteria. Griffith finds that extracts from killed encapsulated streptococci could change the living, harmless bacteria to the disease-producing virulent type. [6][123][124][125]
1928 Scientific development Frederick Griffith, in his experiments with the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, the species that causes a severe form of pneumonia in mammals, discovers transformation in bacteria and establishes the foundation of molecular genetics.[31][126][127][128]
1931 Organization The Society of Agricultural Bacteriologists is founded.[129] United Kingdom
1931 Scientific development Dutch-American microbiologist Cornelius Bernardus van Niel shows that photosynthetic bacteria use reduces compounds as electron donors without producing oxygen.[31][130][131][132]
1934 Scientific development American microbiologist Alice Catherine Evans accomplishes the first typing of a strain of bacteria with bacteriophage.[31]
1937 Scientific development Hungarian physicist Ladislaus Laszlo Marton publishes the first electron micrographs of bacteria.[31]
1943 Scientific development Italian microbiologist Salvador Luria and German–American biophysicist Max Delbrück provides convincing evidence of mutations in bacteria.[133][134][135][136]
1944 Scientific development Oswald Avery, Colin Munro MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty show the significance of DNA as hereditary material by studies of transformation in bacteria.[6][137][138][139]
1945 (February 16) Organization The Microbiology Society is formally inaugurated at a meeting in London. Sir Alexander Fleming is elected as the first President.[129] United Kingdom
1946 Scientific development American molecular biologist Joshua Lederberg and American geneticist Edward Tatum discover bacterial conjugation.[3][6][140][141][142]
1947 Scientific development American molecular biologist Joshua Lederberg shows that bacteria can exchange and recombine genes.[133]
1951 Publication The International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology is established.[143]
1952 Scientific development American biologists Norton Zinder and Joshua Lederberg discover the transduction in bacteria.[6]
1971 Scientific development B. Pierson and K. Castenholz discover the green non-sulphus bacteria Chloroflexus.[6][144][145]
1977 Scientific development American microbiologist Carl Woese recognizes that archaea have a separate line of evolutionary descent from bacteria.[146]
1977 Scientific development Health officials in the United States discover that some germs within one family of bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, could produce an enzyme capable of breaking down common antibiotics.[147] United States
1995 Scientific development Haemophilus Influenzae becomes the first bacterium genome to be sequenced.[4]
2000 Scientific development The first genome of a plant pathogen, the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, is completed.[148] Brazil
2018 Scientific development Research paper shows evidence that hand dryers generate invisible “bacterial highways” inside buildings.[149][150]
2018 Scientific development Researchers from the University of Quebec’s National Institute of Scientific Research discover an oil-hungry bacterium that could be ideal for oil spill cleanup.[151] Canada

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How the timeline was built

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[1], [2] [3]

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See also

External links


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