Article ID: CBB000831713

Everything is everywhere: but the environment selects”: Ubiquitous Distribution and Ecological Determinism in Microbial Biogeography (2008)


Recent discoveries of geographical patterns in microbial distribution are undermining microbiology's exclusively ecological explanations of biogeography and their fundamental assumption that `everything is everywhere: but the environment selects'. This statement was generally promulgated by Dutch microbiologist Martinus Wilhelm Beijerinck early in the twentieth century and specifically articulated in 1934 by his compatriot, Lourens G. M. Baas Becking. The persistence of this precept throughout twentieth-century microbiology raises a number of issues in relation to its formulation and widespread acceptance. This paper will trace the conceptual history of Beijerinck's claim that `everything is everywhere' in relation to a more general account of its theoretical, experimental and institutional context. His principle also needs to be situated in relationship to plant and animal biogeography, which, this paper will argue, forms a continuum of thought with microbial biogeography. Finally, a brief overview of the contemporary microbiological research challenging `everything is everywhere' reveals that philosophical issues from Beijerinck's era of microbiology still provoke intense discussion in twenty-first century investigations of microbial biogeography.i


Description On the ideas of Dutch microbiologists Martinus Wilhelm Beijerinck and Lourens G. M. Baas Becking.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Bos, Pieter; Theunissen, Bert; (1995)
Beijerinck and the Delft school of microbiology (/isis/citation/CBB000073676/)

Article Lazcano, Antonio; (2012)
The Biochemical Roots of the RNA World: from Zymonucleic Acid to Ribozymes (/isis/citation/CBB001251465/)

Book Wilkins, Maurice; (2003)
The Third Man of the Double Helix: The Autobiography of Maurice Wilkins (/isis/citation/CBB000651823/)

Article García-Sancho, Miguel; (2010)
A New Insight into Sanger's Development of Sequencing: From Proteins to DNA, 1943--1977 (/isis/citation/CBB001022367/)

Article Vandenhaute, Jean; (2007)
Regard rétro---et prospectif sur la biologie moléculaire (/isis/citation/CBB000720148/)

Book Bernardino Fantini; Fabrizio Rufo; (2017)
Il codice della vita. Una storia della genetica tra scienza e bioetica (/isis/citation/CBB297801530/)

Essay Review Daniele Cozzoli; (2022)
The Age of Molecular Biology (/isis/citation/CBB172210987/)

Book Sapp, Jan; (2009)
The New Foundations of Evolution: On the Tree of Life (/isis/citation/CBB000952774/)

Article Vray, Bernard; (2002)
Les apports de la biologie moléculaire à la paléoparasitologie (/isis/citation/CBB000932412/)

Book Calisher, C. H.; Horzinek, M. C.; (1999)
100 years of virology: The birth and growth of a discipline (/isis/citation/CBB000110255/)

Article Müller-Wille, Staffan; (2007)
Hybrids, Pure Cultures, and Pure Lines: From Nineteenth-Century Biology to Twentieth-Century Genetics (/isis/citation/CBB000831420/)

Book Davis, Rowland H.; (2003)
Microbial Models of Molecular Biology: From Genes to Genomes (/isis/citation/CBB000470735/)

Authors & Contributors
Theunissen, Bert
Horzinek, M. C.
Bos, Pieter
Iterson, G. van
Kluyver, A. J.
Dooren de Jong, L. E. den
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Revue des Questions Scientifiques
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Oxford University Press
Delft Univ. Press
University of Pittsburgh
Molecular biology
Discipline formation
Beijerinck, Martinus Willem
Loeffler, Friedrich
Wilkins, Maurice Hugh Frederick
Johannsen, Wilhelm Ludvig
Ruffer, Marc Armand
McElroy, William David
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
20th century, late
18th century
The Netherlands: Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg
United States
Prague (Czechia)
McCollum-Pratt Institute
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment