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Microbiology: History and Development

Microbiology studies the structure, vital functions, patterns, and developmental conditions of organisms. The name of science microbiology, one of the biological sciences, came from three Greek words: mikros – small, bios – life, and logos – study (Singh & Satyanarayana, 2017). In other words, microbiology is the science of tiny living creatures. The paper aims to provide detailed historical development of microbiology as a science, and the role of L. Pasteur and F. Redi in spontaneous generation.

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Historical Facts

The discovery of microorganisms dates back to the end of the 17th century. The Dutch naturalist Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek constructed a simple microscope that magnifies the object in question tens or hundreds of times (Edwin et al., 2018). He first described the representatives of the main groups of microorganisms: unicellular organisms, algae, bacteria. For a long time, the science of microbes was mainly descriptive in nature — the morphological period of its development was in progress.

The beginning of a new direction – the physiological period in microbiology development dates back to the 19th century. The Golden Age is associated with the activities of French scientist Louis Pasteur. Pasteur found that microorganisms differ not only in appearance: they cause a variety of chemical transformations in substrates. Pasteur first discovered bacteria that are unable to develop in the presence of air, and he showed that life is possible without oxygen.

Spontaneous Generation

In 1668, the Italian scientist and physician Francesco Redi refuted the hypothesis that the larvae spontaneously generated from rotting meat. Since only the beef available for flies was a larva, Redi concluded that the caterpillar does not spontaneously arise from meat. In 1861, Louis Pasteur’s experiment implemented a method to filter out microorganisms. This experiment showed that the bacteria entering the broth are not the result of spontaneous generation. Therefore, the majority of the scientific community has considered these experiments convincing evidence against spontaneous generation and proof that living organisms arise only in living organisms.

Microbiology in Nursing

Knowledge of medical microbiology will help them understand the difference between the causative agent of the disease and healthy flora. The principles of asepsis and the proper disposal of biomedical waste are equally important. The nurse must recognize the importance of the appropriate collection of samples to be sent for bacteriological examination to obtain accurate results (Durrant et al., 2017). Therefore, the nurse must have explicit knowledge of sterilization methods and sterilization controls to maintain good quality nursing care.


Durrant, R. J., Doig, A. K., Buxton, R. L., & Fenn, J. P. (2017). Microbiology Education in Nursing Practice. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 18(2).

Edwin, A. I., Mathew, E., & Idris, A. (2018). Synoptic History of Microbiology and Microbial Quantumics. Advances in Bioscience and Bioengineering, 6(3), 30-33.

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Singh, B., & Satyanarayana, T. (2017). Basic Microbiology. In Current Developments in Biotechnology and Bioengineering. Elsevier. 1-31.

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