Putting It All Together

Throughout the 1860s, two scientists, Louis Pasteur of France and Robert Koch of Germany, working independently, collected convincing evidence that infectious diseases were caused by microbes and not by evil spirits or the wrath of God.

Pasteur was a chemist and microbiologist working in France. In his studies of wine making for the wine industry, he learned that microscopic bacteria and yeast organisms caused fermentation, the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates into carbon

In the seventeenth century, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek invented this powerful single-lens microscope.

In the seventeenth century, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek invented this powerful single-lens microscope.

dioxide and alcohol. He went on to identify the microorganisms that caused food to spoil and decompose. Before his discovery, people assumed that spoilage was the natural result of chemical breakdown over time. Pasteur found the microbes in milk that caused it to spoil and also devised pasteurization—the process of heating milk to a certain temperature at which harmful bacteria are killed.

After Pasteur's success in the wine industry, the silk manufacturers of France consulted him about the mysterious deaths of their prized silkworms. Pasteur identified two different bacteria that caused the deadly silkworm disease. Pasteur's work provided the world with

Anthrax bacteria infect lung tissue. In a series of laboratory experiments with mice, Robert Koch was able to isolate the deadly anthrax bacterium.

Anthrax bacteria infect lung tissue. In a series of laboratory experiments with mice, Robert Koch was able to isolate the deadly anthrax bacterium.

convincing evidence that microorganisms cause disease, a concept that became known as the germ theory. Around the same time in Germany, medical doctor and researcher Robert Koch was also putting some of the pieces of the bacterial puzzle together.

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