Microbiology History: Spontaneous Generation Debate

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What term did Pasteur use for cultures of avirulent microorganisms used for preventive inoculation?


Which scientist found a chemotherapeutic agent called salvarsan effective against syphilis?

Paul Ehrlich

What was the name of the chemotherapeutic agent found by Paul Ehrlich?


Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of salvarsan?

Named 'salvarsan' due to its origin

What were most of the synthetic drugs developed by the late 1930s derivatives of?


What type of drugs are sulfonamides also known as?

Synthetic drugs

What was the name of the mold in which Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic?

Penicillium notatum

Why are many antimicrobial chemicals too toxic for practical use in humans?

They are also toxic to humans and damage the infected host

What genetic changes in microbes lead to antibiotic resistance?

Genetic changes that increase the microbe's tolerance to antibiotics

Which bacteria strain's resistance to Vancomycin alarmed health care professionals?

Enterococcus faecalis

Why are there very few successful antiviral drugs currently available?

Antiviral drugs can negatively affect uninfected cells

What was the active inhibitor in the mold discovered by Alexander Fleming?

Alexander penicillin Flemming

Who provided the first proof that bacteria can cause a disease?

Robert Koch

What significant discovery did Agostino Bassi make in relation to silkworm disease?

It is caused by a fungus

Which scientist applied the germ theory of disease to medical procedures?

Joseph Lister

What did Edward Jenner discover in his smallpox vaccination experiment?

Cowpox provides immunity to smallpox

What does the term 'vaccination' derive from?

'Cow' in Latin

Why is immunity important in the context of Edward Jenner's work?

To defend against diseases like smallpox

Who was responsible for establishing the relationship between microorganisms and disease through fermentation studies?

Louis Pasteur

'Germ theory of disease' primarily involves the study of:

Microorganisms' role in causing diseases

'Koch's postulates' relate to:

'Germ Theory of Disease'

What did Pasteur find out about the conversion process from sugars to alcohol in wine and beer?

Microorganisms convert sugars to alcohol in the presence of air.

Study Notes

A Brief History of Microbiology

  • The debate over spontaneous generation challenged the theory that living cells can arise from non-living matter.
  • Anton Lavoisier, Rudolf Virchow, and Louis Pasteur contributed to the understanding of biogenesis, demonstrating that microorganisms are present in the air and can contaminate sterile solutions.
  • Louis Pasteur's work provided evidence that microorganisms cannot originate from non-living materials, and that any appearance of "spontaneous" life can be attributed to microorganisms already present in the air or fluids.

The Golden Age of Microbiology

  • The period from 1857 to 1914 was named the Golden Age of Microbiology, led by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch.
  • Key discoveries during this period included the agents of many diseases and the role of immunity in preventing and curing disease.
  • Pasteur's work on fermentation and pasteurization led to the understanding that microorganisms convert sugars into alcohol and vinegar.
  • He developed a method to heat liquor to kill bacteria, preventing spoilage.

Germ Theory of Disease

  • The germ theory of disease proposes that microorganisms cause disease.
  • Louis Pasteur's work on silkworm disease led to the development of a method to recognize afflicted silkworm moths.
  • Agostino Bassi proved that a silkworm disease was caused by a fungus.
  • Joseph Lister applied the germ theory to medical procedures, reducing infections and deaths by treating surgical wounds with a phenol solution.
  • Robert Koch provided the first proof that bacteria can cause disease, discovering Bacillus anthrax and establishing Koch's postulates.


  • Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine against smallpox, using cowpox to induce immunity.
  • Louis Pasteur discovered that microorganisms can lose their ability to cause disease after being grown in the laboratory, making them suitable for vaccination.
  • Pasteur used the term "vaccine" for cultures of avirulent microorganisms used for preventive inoculation.

Current Applications of Microbiology in Pharmacy

  • Chemotherapy is the treatment of disease using chemical substances, often produced naturally by bacteria and fungi.
  • Paul Ehrlich discovered the first synthetic drug, salvarsan, an arsenic derivative effective against syphilis.
  • The development of antibiotics, such as penicillin, has revolutionized the treatment of bacterial infections.
  • Antibiotics are often derived from molds or other microorganisms, and many are too toxic for human use.
  • The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of microorganisms has raised concerns about the effectiveness of these treatments.

Other Applications of Microbiology

  • The development of antibiotics has led to concerns about drug resistance and the emergence of new, untreatable bacterial infections.
  • The overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains, posing a significant threat to public health.

Explore the contributions of Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Rudolf Virchow, and Louis Pasteur in challenging the theory of spontaneous generation and introducing the concept of biogenesis. Learn about their experiments that paved the way for understanding that living cells can only arise from preexisting living cells.

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