Article ID: CBB687036261

Microbes before microbiology: Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg and Berlin’s infusoria (2022)


Naturalist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg pioneered research on living and fossil infusoria (including protists and bacteria) since the 1830s by collecting samples from all over the world, thus describing numerous microbes and discussing their effects for the planet and for humankind. This article introduces Ehrenberg as a natural historian of microbes and situates his work in the nineteenth century life sciences with respect to debates about cell theory, evolution, and concepts of disease. I argue that in spite of occurring before these major conceptual innovations of the life sciences, Ehrenberg’s work on the diversity of microbes found in earth or air is more exciting than historiography has made it appear so far, especially in light of today’s ecological microbiology.

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Article Davina Höll; Leonie N. Bossert (2022) Introducing the microbiome: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science (p. 100817). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Geus, Armin
Heesen, Anke te
Böhme, Katrin
Simmer, Hans H.
Moberg, Carol L.
Davis, Frederick Rowe
Medizinhistorisches Journal
History of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
Filosofia e História da Biologia
British Journal for the History of Science
Matthiesen Verlag
American Society for Microbiology
Oxford University Press
E. Rauner Verlag
Yale University Press
University of California Press
Natural history
Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried
Winogradsky, Serge
Humboldt, Alexander von
Pick, Ludwig
Dubos, René Jules
Carr, Archie Fairly
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
Berlin (Germany)
United States
Great Britain
Harquala Peak Smithsonian Observatory
Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin
Anatomical-zootomical Museum in Berlin
Berlin Zoological Museum

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