Quickie: History of Virology

The history of virology – the scientific study of viruses and the infections they cause – began in the closing years of the 19th century. Although Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner developed the first vaccines to protect against viral infections, they did not know that viruses existed. The first evidence of the existence of viruses came from experiments with filters that had pores small enough to retain bacteria. In 1892, Dmitry Ivanovsky used one of these filters to show that sap from a diseased tobacco plant remained infectious to healthy tobacco plants despite having been filtered.

Martinus Beijerinck called the filtered, infectious substance a “virus” and this discovery is considered to be the beginning of virology. The subsequent discovery and partial characterization of bacteriophages by Felix d’Herelle further catalyzed the field, and by the early 20th century many viruses were discovered.





Image Cred: Rockland Immunochemicals

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