The Contributions of Louis Pasteur Essay

Louis Pasteur is believed to be one of the most important contributors of microbiology. Pasteur was born in Dole, France on December 27, 1822 and died in Saint Cloud on September 28, 1895. Pasteur attended primary school in Arbois, France and he attended secondary school in Besancon. In 1840 Pasteur received his Bachelor of Arts and in 1842 he received his Bachelor of Science degree at the Royal College of Besancon. Pasteur then received his Master of Science degree in 1845 and his doctorate in sciences in 1847.

Some of Pasteur’s greatest contributions include his work on biogenesis and disproval of spontaneous generation, research on child bed fever, pasteurization, and vaccination for rabies.

(Ullmann) One of Pasteur’s greatest contributions is his work on biogenesis and the disproval of spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation was the theory that beetles, maggots, eels, and microbes could arise spontaneously from putrefying matter. This theory brought with is speculation and debate, but Pasteur’s experiments disproved this theory.

Pasteur developed experiments that proved that the skins of the grape were the source of the yeast.

In one of his experiments Pasteur found that by using a needle to extract juice from under the skin the juice collected would not ferment. To prove that the dust in the air carried the contamination Pasteur collected air at different altitudes and allowed it to enter sterilized vessels filled with solutions that could ferment. The higher altitudes that had less dust in the air produced fewer flasks that presented growth.

However, the experiment that closed the argument was one in which fermentable juice was placed in a sterilized flask and the neck was heated and drawn out into a shape that resembled the neck of a swan. With the end of the neck sealed the contents did not change. When the flask was opened at the end of the neck air was able to enter but the dust was and trapped on the wet walls of the neck. The fluid in the flasks remained sterile showing that the air itself could not trigger the growth of microorganisms.

When the flask was tipped and the terile liquid touched the walls of the flask with dust on them and returned to the bottom of the flask the growth of microorganisms began immediately. Because of Pasteur’s work we know today that if not exposed to dust in the air experiments other items cannot spontaneously generate flies, eels, maggots, or microbes. (Cohn, 1996) Childbed fever was an illness was resulted in the termination of pregnancy through childbirth, miscarriage, or abortion. In the 19th century child bed fever puerperal fever was the second leading cause in women of childbearing age.

Many scientists had worked on a cure or prevention of this disease before Pasteur and had come to the conclusion that doctors must wash their hands and boil their instruments before delivering babies seeing as hygiene was not as a high a priority as it is today. Through his work with Pasteurization Pasteur realized that soured souring of wine and infectious disease may share the common thread that infection might be caused by a microorganism. Pasteur’s belief that microbes caused death became known as germ theory of disease.

Pasteur worked with scientists Joseph Lister and Ignaz Semmelweis and the found that if they applied phenic acid to bandages and sprayed it on wounds it reduced the rate of infection. Because of Pasteur’s work today we have Robert Knocks postulates which were developed in 1876. The postulates set three rules for assignment of a microbe as a cause of a disease. Knock also developed the tools for obtaining pure culture. All of these things have led to an improvement in healthcare and mortality rates. (“The moicrobial world,” 2006)

Pasteurization was named for Louis Pasteur who showed that by using heat you can destroy pathogenic microorganisms in certain foods and beverages. In 1863 at the request of Napoleon III, the emperor of France, Pasteur studied wine contamination and found it was caused by microbes. In order to prevent contamination Pasteur heated wine to 50-60 degrees Celsius. This process became known as pasteurization. Today pasteurization is used in many foods and beverages including milk. Pasteurization, however is rarely used in wine production seeing as it also kills the organisms that contribute to aging.

Rabies is a viral disease caused by a rhabdovirus that is often present in the salivary glands of rabid animals. In 1882 Pasteur began working on a vaccine for rabies. Pasteur had to develop new methods seeing as the virus that causes rabies was too small to be seen under a regular microscope. So instead Pasteur used rabbits and transmitted the infection through intracerebral inoculation until he could obtain a stable preperation. Pasteur then dissected the spinal cords of rabbits until the preparation became almost nonvirulent.

Pasteur later realized that instead of creating a attenuated for of the microbe he had actually killed many of the microbes. Pasteur had developed dead organisms and developed the second class of vaccine, known as inactivated vaccines. Today the rabies vaccine is used to prevent and treat rabies. (Ullmann) Pasteur truly has been an important contributor of microbiology. Pasteur’s work contributed to the medical world and the health of our generation. His work on biogenesis and disproval of spontaneous generation, research on child bed fever, pasteurization, and vaccination for rabies has changed the way scientist work today.

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