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Discovery of Viruses

Discovery of Viruses:


In 1884, a French microbiologist by the name of Charles Chamberland invented a special type of filter containing filtration holes smaller than the size of physical bacteria. This filter, now known as the Chamberland-Pasteur filter, was intended to filter bacteria out of solutions.

In 1892, a Russian scientist by the name of Dimitri Ivanovski illustrated that 'infected' tobacco plant leaves remained 'infected' after filtration, thereby insinuating a source of infection smaller than actual bacteria. Although he did not persue this discovery any further, it was then known as the 'germ' theory of disease.

In 1898 the Dutch microbiologist Martinus Beirjerinck took up Ivanovski's experiement, convinced it was worth further study. He deemed that the infections would only multiply in living cells, and referred to the germ as ' contagium vivum fluidum (soluble living germ)', as he was not able to find evidence of solid particles.

An English bacteriologist by the name of Fredrick Twort, during the early 20th century discovered viruses as the source of infections in bacteria. These viruses, now known as bacteriophages, are only capable of infecting bacterial cells.

Beijerinck further went on to (re)introduce the term 'virus', but insisted that they were liquid in nature. Wendell Stanley went on the next year to illustrate that viruses were indeed based on solid particles, and further studies by Freidrich Loeffler showed that viruses were capable of replication.

Many other scientists went on to test the reproductive capabilities, transmission abilities and other forms of viral behaviours, resulting ultimately in a strong, categorically standardizing method for classifying viruses.
Classifications | Functional Uses | History | Intro to Virology | Introduction | Research | Virus Types