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Spontaneous Generation, History of microbiology

Provide a discussion of:

1. The history of Microbiology

2. The early theory of spontaneous generation and discuss one experiment which supported the theory.

3. List two experiments by early scientists and provide a detailed explanation of how each experiment disproved the theory of spontaneous generation.

4. What components of the modern theory of the cell replace these early theories? How does an understanding of cell biology contribute to our understanding of life and the origin of life?

Solution Preview

1. The history of Microbiology

In the mid 1600s, an English scientist named Robert Hooke observed strands of fungi among other speciments of cells when the microscope was available.
In the 1670s. Anton Van Leeuwenhoek observed microscopic organisms which he called "animalcules", and revealed the first description of protozoa, fungi, and bacteria. Scientist were not interested in microbiology and the microscopes were rare. The theory of spontaneous generation was debated by scientists. The theory of spontaneous generation stated that microorganisms "arise from lifeless matter such as beef broth."
Louise Pasteur and the germ theory. Louis Pasteur was the father of microbiology. He did numerous work to discover why wine and dairy products became sour and that bacteria are the cause of the sour taste. He was the scientist that disprove the spontaneous theory one thing for all. He postulated the germ theory of disease that stated that microorganisms are the causes of infectious disease.
The German scientist Robert Koch attempt to prove the germ theory by cultivating anthrax bacteria apart from any organism, and injected pure cultures of bacilli into mice, and showed that bacilli caused anthrax. He provided the Koch's postulates.
In the late 1800s and the first decade of the 1900s, there emerged a Golden Age of Microbiology during which many microorganisms that caused infectious diseases were identified.
After World War II, the discovery of antibiotics proved to be very helpful in medicine because there were fewer incidents of pneumonia, tuberculosis, menigistis, and syphilis.
1940s, the electron microscope was developed and the discovery of viruses begin.
Cultivation methods for viruses were ...

Solution Summary

Spontaneous generation is an early theory that states "microorganisms derive from lifeless matter such as beef broth."
The spontaneous generation theory was supported by John Needham experiment when he took chicken broth and heated it so that all living things in it would die. After heating the broth, he let the flask cool and sit at a constant temperature. There was the development of thick turbid solution of microorganisms in the flask.
Another experiment supporting the theory of spontaneous generation is when meat is left in the open air for a long time, there will be maggots developing from the meat.
Over the years, spontaneous generation was disproven by experiments carried out from Louis Pasteur and others to prove that life can only arise from preexisting life.

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