Voss, Edward W., Jr. Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois.
- Additional Readings
The multidisciplinary science of microorganisms which began with the study of bacteria. The prefix microgenerally refers to an object sufficiently small that a microscope is required for visualization. In the seventeenth century, Anton van Leeuwenhoek first documented observations of bacteria by using finely ground lenses. Bacteriology, as a precursor science to microbiology, was based on Louis Pasteur's pioneering studies in the nineteenth century, when it was demonstrated that microbes as minute simple living organisms were an integral part of the biosphere involved in fermentation and disease. Microbiology matured into a scientific discipline when students of Pasteur, Robert Koch, and others sustained microbes on various organic substrates and determined that microbes caused chemical changes in the basal nutrients to derive energy for growth. These observations contributed to further understanding of the microbial basis of fermentation. Modern microbiology continued to evolve from bacteriology by encompassing the identification, classification, and study of the structure and function of a wide range of microorganisms. The comprehensive range of organisms is reflected in the major subdivisions of microbiology, which include medical, industrial, agricultural, food, and dairy. See also: Bacteriology; Microscope
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