Great Golden Era of MICROBIOLOGY


The great golden era of microbiology refers to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of rapid growth and development in the field of microbiology. This period was marked by numerous important discoveries and advancements that transformed our understanding of the microbial world and paved the way for modern microbiology.

Some of the most significant achievements of this era include the discovery of the germ theory of disease, the isolation of pathogenic bacteria, the development of microbial staining techniques, and the discovery of antibiotics.

These and many other contributions by pioneering scientists such as Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, Paul Ehrlich, Alexander Fleming, and others have had a lasting impact on our understanding of microorganisms and their role in health, disease, and the environment. The great golden era of microbiology is widely considered a time of great scientific and technological advancements that laid the foundation for many of the modern practices and techniques used in the field today.

[I] Louis Pasteur (December 27, 1822-September 28, 1895):

He was a French biologist, microbiologist and chemist known for discovering the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. His discoveries have saved many lives ever since breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of diseases. He succeeded in reducing mortality from fever. He created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax.

Contributions of Louis Pasteur in Fermentation:

Pasteur laid foundation for all microbiological techniques through his research on lactic and alcoholic fermentation and defined these principles:

1. All fermentation is caused by a microorganism.

2 There is a particular ferment for every given fermentation.

3. A sterile culture medium is required for ferment growth.

4. Medium has to be seeded with absolute ferment particles.

In the 1850s and 1860s, Louis Pasteur showed that fermentation was a process initiated by living organisms in a series of investigations. At the time it was thought to be caused by yeast dying and decomposing In 1858, Pasteur demonstrated that fermentation was a process involving the action of living yeast and that fermentation could also produce lactic acid which makes wines sour Through further research, Pasteur showed that the growth of micro-organisms was responsible for spoiling beverages such as beer, wine and milk.

Contributions of Louis Pasteur in Rabies:

Development of vaccine against rabies or hydrophobia was the last and the most famous success in the long career of Pasteur’s research Rabies attacked the nervous system and it was considered a dreadful disease for its symptoms and treatment. At first, Even Pasteur failed to find and isolate the causative agent, but with his excellent experimental method he built an invisible micro-organism to attenuate the virulence.

He attenuated the microorganism by growing it in abnormal host Le rabbit marrow successfully. After the death of the rabbit the brain and the spinal cord of the rabbit were removed and dried. The dred preparation of brain was used as vaccine. Then, for the first time on July 6. 1885, he treated 9 years old Joseph Meister with his anti-rabies vaccine and the kid recovered perfectly. This milestone transformed Pasteur into a legends.

 Contributions of Louis Pasteur in Pasteurization:

Pasteur continued his research and applied his microbiological techniques to agricultural and industrial sectors successfully His pasteurization process concluded that all fermentable liquid could be prevented from spoiling with a special heating treatment. This method was particularly implemented to save wines and beers from spoilage by heating at 55°C.

After studying the harmful effects of microbes on foodstuffe Louis Pasteur invented the pasteurization process in 1862 In pasteurization, liquids such as milk are heated to a temperature between 50 °C and 100 °C to kill microorganisms present within and causing spoilage Pasteurization was first used to save the French wine industries from the problem of contamination. Soon the process was also applied to milk and beer Pasteurization continues to be used widely in the dairy industry and other food processing industries to achieve food preservation and food safety

Contributions of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895):

• Disproved the Spontaneous Generation theory.

• Discovered the fermentation fruit to alcohol by microbes – This was the beginning of Fermentation

• Different microbes gives different tastes to wine.

• He selected a particular strain of yeast for high quality wine. He developed a method to remove the undesired microbes from juice without affecting its quality. Heating the juice at 62.8°C for half an hour resulted in removal of microbes. This technique is called as Pasteurization, which is commonly used in milk industry.

• He discovered that parasites (protozoa) cause pebrine disease of sikworm. He suggested that disease free caterpillars can eliminate the disease.

• He isolated the anthrax causing bacilli from the bloods of cattle sheep and human being.

• He demonstrated the virulence of bacteria.

• He developed vaccine against rabbies from the brains and of rabbit spinal cord.

[II] Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch (11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910):

Rober Heinrich was a German physician and microbiologist. As one of the main founders of modern bacteriology, he identified the specific causative agents of tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax and gave experimental support for the concept of infectious disease which included experiments on humans and other animals. Koch created and improved laboratory techniques in the field of microbiology and made key discoveries in public health. His research led to the creation of Koch’s postulates a series of four generalized principles linking specific microorganisms to specific diseases. These remain today as standard in medical microbiology For his research on tuberculosis. Koch received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1905. The Robert Koch Institute is named in his honour

Koch’s Germ Theory of Disease:

Before Pasteur effective treatments for many diseases were discovered by trial and error though the cause of disease was unknown The discovery of crucial role of yeast in fermentation made scientists to think about the possibilities of microbes acting as causative agents. Koch was of the opinion that germs i.e. microbes cause disease in plants and animals. This idea is known as germ theory of disease.

The germ theory of disease is the currently accepted scientific theory for many diseases. It states that microorganisms known as pathogens of “germs” can lead to disease

Koch’s postulates were developed in the 19 century as general guidelines to identify pathogens. It was recognized even in Koch’s time that some infectious agents were undoubtedly responsible for disease even though they did not fulfil all of the postulates. Currently, a number of infectious agents are accepted as the cause of disease even if do not fulfil all of Koch’s postulates

Koch’s Postulates:

1. The microorganism must be found in abundance in all organisms suffering from the disease but should not be found in healthy organisms.

2. The must be isolated from a diseased organism and grown in pure culture

3. The cultured microorganism should cause disease when introduced into a healthy organism. The microorganism must be reisolated from the inoculated, diseased experimental host and identified as being identical to the original specific causative agent.

While Koch’s postulates retain historical importance and continue to be an approach to microbial diagnosis, fulfilment of all four postulates is not required to demonstrate the factor.

Koch,s postulates have also influenced scientists who examine microbial pathogenesis from a molecular version identification microbial genes encoding virulence factors.

 Koch Tuberculosis:

At time, it was widely believed that tuberculosis was inherited disease. However, Koch convinced the disease was by bacterium and tested four guinea pigs. The results of experiments, showed with tuberculosis satisfied four his postulates. In 1882, he published his findings on tuberculosis. In that he reported causative of the disease to be the slow-growing Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Koch’s attempt developing drug treat tuberculosis, tuberculin, was a failure later. not the exact composition, but the treatment he claimed not materialise. And same substance used tuberculosis diagnosis today. Koch and Cholera:

Koch next turned conduct research Egypt the disease. However, he was not able to complete the task before the epidemic Egypt ended, and subsequently travelled to India continue with the In 1884 India, was able to determine causative

agent cholera and isolating Vibrio cholerae.

Contributions of Robert Koch

  1. Discovery of Bacillus anthracis, Discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis the agent of tuberculosis.

2.Discovery of Vibrio cholerae causative agent • Invented streak plate

3.Use gelatine the solidifying Described the sporulation and germination of bacterial endospores.

4. Described the thermo resistance and appearance of endospores. Discovery nutrient broth nutrient media.

5. Adaptation meat infusion basic ingredient of Development methods stained bacterial

6. Development of methods for microscopic observation of bacterial cells in live sta

[III] Ferdinand Cohn (1828-1898):

Ferdinand Cohn considered to be the father of modern Bacteriology began his studies as a botanist and ultimately made discoveries which led to the creation of a new field of study. He was the first scientist who believed that bacteria should be classified as plants.

Cohn was the first to show that Bacillus can change from a vegetative state to an endospore state when subjected to an environment unfavourable to the vegetative state His studies laid the foundation for the classification of microbes. These gave some of the first insights into the incredible complexity and diversity of microbial life.

In 1892 Dmitry Ivanovsky used filters to show that sap from a diseased tobacco plant despite having been filtered remained infectious to healthy tobacco plants. Martinus Beijerinck called the filtered infectious substance a “virus”. This discovery is considered to be the beginning of virology. [IV] Thomas Milton Rivers (September 3, 1888-May 12,1962):

Thomas Milton Rivers was an American bacteriologist and virologist.

The “Father of modern virology put forth the River’s Postulates for the pathogenesis of viral diseases. The viral agent must be found either in the host’s (animal or plant) body fluids at the time of disease or in cells showing lesions specific to that disease

The host material with the viral agent used to inoculate the healthy host (test organism) must be free of any other microorganism.

The viral agent obtained from the infected host must produce the specific disease in a suitable healthy host and/or provide evidence of infection by inducing the formation of antibodies specific to that agent.

• Similar material (viral particle) from the newly infected host (test organism) must be isolated and capable of transmitting the specific disease to other healthy hosts

[IV] Joseph Lister, (5 April 1827-10 February 1912):

Joseph Lister, known between 1883 and 1897 as Sir Joseph Lister, Bt, was a British surgeon and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery

Lister promoted the idea of sterile surgery Lister successfully introduced carbolic acid (now known as phenol) to sterilise surgical instruments and clean wounds. He developed the practice of spraying phenol in an operative room to control infection. He proposed the use of heat-sterilised surgical instruments during an operation


The golden era of microbiology refers to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of rapid growth and development in the field of microbiology. This period was marked by several key discoveries and advancements that changed our understanding of the microbial world and paved the way for modern microbiology. Some of the most significant achievements of this era include:

Discovery of the Germ Theory of Disease: Louis Pasteur’s work in the 1860s demonstrated that many diseases were caused by microorganisms, leading to the development of the germ theory of disease.

Isolation of Pathogenic Bacteria: Robert Koch, a German physician, made important contributions to the understanding of infectious diseases by isolating the causative agents of anthrax, tuberculosis, and cholera.

Development of Microbial Staining Techniques: The development of staining techniques by Paul Ehrlich and Hans Christian Gram in the 1880s allowed for the differentiation of different types of bacteria and greatly improved the study of microbiology.

Discovery of Antibiotics: The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 revolutionized the treatment of bacterial infections and marked the beginning of the age of antibiotics.

These achievements and many others laid the foundation for modern microbiology and have had a profound impact on medicine, public health, and biotechnology.

Sure! Here are a few more significant events that took place during the golden era of microbiology:

Discovery of Bacteriophages: In 1917, Félix d’Hérelle discovered bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, and demonstrated their potential as a therapeutic tool for treating bacterial infections.

Study of Fermentation Processes: Louis Pasteur’s work on fermentation processes in the late 19th century paved the way for the modern food and beverage industry, as well as the development of industrial microbiology.

Study of Soil Microbes: The work of Martinus Beijerinck in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on soil microbes and the concept of the nitrogen cycle led to a better understanding of the role of microbes in the environment and in agriculture.

Development of Sterilization Techniques: The development of sterilization techniques by Pasteur and Koch was critical in preventing the contamination of microbiological cultures and greatly improved the study and control of infectious diseases.

Study of the Microbial World: The work of Anton van Leeuwenhoek in the late 17th century and the invention of the microscope led to the discovery of a vast and diverse microbial world, which paved the way for modern microbiology.

These and many other achievements during the golden era of microbiology have had a profound impact on our understanding of the microbial world and have led to countless advancements in medicine, agriculture, and industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.