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Manual of Systematics of Archaea and Bacteria

The field of bacteriology (later a subdiscipline of microbiology) was founded in the 19th century by Ferdinand Cohn, a botanist whose studies on algae and photosynthetic bacteria led him to describe several bacteria including Bacillus and Beggiatoa. Cohn was also the first to formulate a scheme for the taxonomic classification of bacteria, and to discover endospores.[21] Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch were contemporaries of Cohn, and are often considered to be the father of microbiology[20] and medical microbiology, respectively.[22] Pasteur is most famous for his series of experiments designed to disprove the then widely held theory of spontaneous generation, thereby solidifying microbiology’s identity as a biological science.[23] One of his students, Adrien Certes, is considered the founder of marine microbiology.[24] Pasteur also designed methods for food preservation (pasteurization) and vaccines against several diseases such as anthrax, fowl cholera and rabies.[1]Koch is best known for his contributions to the germ theory of disease, proving that specific diseases were caused by specific pathogenic microorganisms. He developed a series of criteria that have become known as the Koch’s postulates. Koch was one of the first scientists to focus on the isolation of bacteria in pure culture resulting in his description of several novel bacteria including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis.[1]

While Pasteur and Koch are often considered the founders of microbiology, their work did not accurately reflect the true diversity of the microbial world because of their exclusive focus on microorganisms having direct medical relevance. It was not until the late 19th century and the work of Martinus Beijerinck and Sergei Winogradskythat the true breadth of microbiology was revealed.[1] Beijerinck made two major contributions to microbiology: the discovery of viruses and the development of enrichment culture techniques.[25] While his work on the tobacco mosaic virus established the basic principles of virology, it was his development of enrichment culturing that had the most immediate impact on microbiology by allowing for the cultivation of a wide range of microbes with wildly different physiologies. Winogradsky was the first to develop the concept of chemolithotrophy and to thereby reveal the essential role played by microorganisms in geochemical processes.[26] He was responsible for the first isolation and description of both nitrifying and nitrogen-fixing bacteria.[1] French-Canadian microbiologist Felix d’Herelle co-discovered bacteriophages in 1917 and was one of the earliest applied microbiologists.[2