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Learning objectives

  • Explain the key points of cell theory and the individual contributions of Hooke, Schleiden, Schwann, Remak, and Virchow
  • Explain the key points of endosymbiotic theory and cite the evidence that supports this concept
  • Explain the contributions of Semmelweis, Snow, Pasteur, Lister, and Koch to the development of germ theory

While some scientists were arguing over the theory of spontaneous generation, other scientists were making discoveries leading to a better understanding of what we now call the cell theory . Modern cell theory has two basic tenets:

  • All cells only come from other cells (the principle of biogenesis).
  • Cells are the fundamental units of organisms.

Today, these tenets are fundamental to our understanding of life on earth. However, modern cell theory grew out of the collective work of many scientists.

The origins of cell theory

The English scientist Robert Hooke first used the term “cells” in 1665 to describe the small chambers within cork that he observed under a microscope of his own design. To Hooke, thin sections of cork resembled “Honey-comb,” or “small Boxes or Bladders of Air.” He noted that each “Cavern, Bubble, or Cell” was distinct from the others ( [link] ). At the time, Hooke was not aware that the cork cells were long dead and, therefore, lacked the internal structures found within living cells.

A drawing make by Hooke that shows many small rectangles in rows making up larger structures.
Robert Hooke (1635–1703) was the first to describe cells based upon his microscopic observations of cork. This illustration was published in his work Micrographia .

Despite Hooke’s early description of cells, their significance as the fundamental unit of life was not yet recognized. Nearly 200 years later, in 1838, Matthias Schleiden (1804–1881), a German botanist who made extensive microscopic observations of plant tissues, described them as being composed of cells. Visualizing plant cells was relatively easy because plant cells are clearly separated by their thick cell walls. Schleiden believed that cells formed through crystallization, rather than cell division.

Theodor Schwann (1810–1882), a noted German physiologist, made similar microscopic observations of animal tissue. In 1839, after a conversation with Schleiden, Schwann realized that similarities existed between plant and animal tissues. This laid the foundation for the idea that cells are the fundamental components of plants and animals.

In the 1850s, two Polish scientists living in Germany pushed this idea further, culminating in what we recognize today as the modern cell theory. In 1852, Robert Remak (1815–1865), a prominent neurologist and embryologist, published convincing evidence that cells are derived from other cells as a result of cell division. However, this idea was questioned by many in the scientific community. Three years later, Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902), a well-respected pathologist, published an editorial essay entitled “Cellular Pathology,” which popularized the concept of cell theory using the Latin phrase omnis cellula a cellula (“all cells arise from cells”), which is essentially the second tenet of modern cell theory. M. Schultz. “Rudolph Virchow.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 14 no. 9 (2008):1480–1481. Given the similarity of Virchow’s work to Remak’s, there is some controversy as to which scientist should receive credit for articulating cell theory. See the following Eye on Ethics feature for more about this controversy.

Questions & Answers

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list three categories of symbiotic relationships.
mary Reply
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dranimva Reply
microbial intoxication results when a person ingests a toxin or a poisonous substance that has been produced by a microbe while infectious disease results when a pathogen colonize the body and subsequently cause disease.
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amna Reply
It is mainly used for media preparation and product testing purpose.
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what is microbiology
Shamsuddeen Reply
study of living organisms that are too small to be visible with naked eye
microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms, either unicellular(single cell), multicellular( cell colony), or acellular (lacking cell).
is the word Atypical or a typical bacteria. .am confused pliz help
typical bacteria
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atypical means that it has some characters from bacteria not all characters ...but tybical means that it has all the characters that bacteria have
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some examples please
thank you Reham
1) typical bacteria contain a cell wall whereas atypical bacteria usually do not contain a cell . 2) typical bacteria can be either Gram-positive or Gram-negative while atypical bacteria remain colorless with Gram staining. 3) cells of typical bacteria are large ,while cells of the atypical small
Example of atypical : Mycoplasma pneumoniae , chlamydophila pneumoniae , legionella
what is micro biology
Jauharah Reply
is the study of organisms which can't be viewed by our necked eyes
Because it preexisting causing secondary infection after collateral damage of normal microbota
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Antagonism: the combined action is less than that of the more effective agent when used alone). All these effects may be observed in vitro (particularly in terms of bactericidal rate) and in vivo والله اعلم
....fermentros have 1-15litre capacity
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which of the following microorganisms are classified as eukaryotic?
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Source:  OpenStax, Microbiology. OpenStax CNX. Nov 01, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12087/1.4
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