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Martinus Willem Beijerinck (, 16 March 1851 – 1 January 1931) was a Dutch
microbiologist A microbiologist (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...

microbiologist
and
botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek wo ...

botanist
who was one of the founders of
virology Virology is the Scientific method, scientific study of virusessubmicroscopic, parasitic organisms of genetic material contained in a protein coatand virus-like agents. It focuses on the following aspects of viruses: their structure, classificat ...
and
environmental microbiology Microbial ecology (or environmental microbiology) is the ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their ...
. He is credited with the discovery of
viruses A virus is a wikt:submicroscopic, submicroscopic infectious agent that Viral replication, replicates only inside the living Cell (biology), cells of an organism. Viruses infect all life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, incl ...
, which he called ''
Contagium vivum fluidum ''Contagium vivum fluidum'' (Latin: "contagious living fluid") was a phrase first used to describe a virus A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organi ...
''.


Life


Early life and education

Born in
Amsterdam Amsterdam (, , ) is the Capital of the Netherlands, capital and Municipalities of the Netherlands, most populous city of the Netherlands with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the City Region of Amsterdam, urban ar ...

Amsterdam
, Beijerinck studied at the Technical School of Delft, where he was awarded the degree of Chemical Engineer in 1872. He obtained his Doctor of Science degree from the
University of Leiden Leiden University (abbreviated as ''LEI''; nl, Universiteit Leiden) is a Public university, public research university in Leiden, Netherlands. Founded in 1575 by William the Silent, William, Prince of Orange as a reward to the city of Leiden for ...
in 1877. At the time, Delft, then a Polytechnic, did not have the right to confer doctorates, so Leiden did this for them. He became a teacher in microbiology at the Agricultural School in Wageningen (now
Wageningen University Wageningen University & Research (also known as Wageningen UR; abbreviation: WUR) is a public university in Wageningen, Netherlands, specializing in technical and engineering subjects and an important center for life sciences and agricultural re ...
) and later at the ''Polytechnische Hogeschool Delft'' (
Delft Delft () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. ...

Delft
Polytechnic, currently
Delft University of Technology Delft University of Technology ( nl, Technische Universiteit Delft), also known as TU Delft, is the oldest and largest Dutch public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from ...
) (from 1895). He established the Delft School of Microbiology. His studies of agricultural and industrial microbiology yielded fundamental discoveries in the field of
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
. His achievements have been perhaps unfairly overshadowed by those of his contemporaries,
Robert Koch Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch (; ; 11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) was a German physician and microbiologist. As the discoverer of the specific causative agents of deadly infectious diseases including tuberculosis, cholera (though the Vibrio c ...

Robert Koch
and
Louis Pasteur Louis Pasteur (, ; 27 December 1822 – 28 September 1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, fermentation, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization. His research in chemi ...

Louis Pasteur
, because unlike them, Beijerinck never studied human disease. In 1877, he wrote his first notable research paper, discussing
plant galls File:CrinoidGalls072713.jpg, Galls can also appear on skeletal animals and in the fossil record. Two galls with perforations on a crinoid stem (''Apiocrinites negevensis'') from the Middle Jurassic of southern Israel. Galls (from Latin ''galla'', ...

plant galls
. The paper later became the basis for his doctoral dissertation. In 1885 he became a member of the
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences ( nl, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, abbreviated: KNAW) is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English langu ...
.


Scientific career

He is considered one of the founders of
virology Virology is the Scientific method, scientific study of virusessubmicroscopic, parasitic organisms of genetic material contained in a protein coatand virus-like agents. It focuses on the following aspects of viruses: their structure, classificat ...
. In 1898, he published results on the filtration experiments demonstrating that
tobacco mosaic disease ''Tobacco mosaic virus'' (TMV) is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus virus species, species in the genus ''Tobamovirus'' that infects a wide range of plants, especially tobacco and other members of the family Solanaceae. The infection ca ...
is caused by an infectious agent smaller than a
bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell The cell (from Latin ''cella'', meaning "small room") is the basic structural, functional, and ...
. His results were in accordance with the similar observation made by
Dmitri Ivanovsky Dmitri Iosifovich Ivanovsky (alternative spelling ''Dmitrii'' or ''Dmitry Iwanowski''; russian: link=no, Дми́трий Ио́сифович Ивано́вский; 28 October 1864 – 20 June 1920) was a Russian botanist, the co-discoverer of : ...
in 1892. Like Ivanovsky before him and
Adolf Mayer Adolf Eduard Mayer (9 August 184325 December 1942) was a Germany, German Agricultural chemistry, agricultural chemist whose work on Tobacco mosaic virus, tobacco mosaic disease played an important role in the discovery of tobacco mosaic virus and ...
, predecessor at Wageningen, Beijerinck could not culture the filterable infectious agent; however, he concluded that the agent can replicate and multiply in living plants. He named the new
pathogen In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...
''
virus A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecu ...

virus
'' to indicate its non-bacterial nature. Beijerinck asserted that the virus was somewhat liquid in nature, calling it "''
contagium vivum fluidum ''Contagium vivum fluidum'' (Latin: "contagious living fluid") was a phrase first used to describe a virus A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organi ...
''" (contagious living fluid). It was not until the first crystals of the
tobacco mosaic virus ''Tobacco mosaic virus'' (TMV) is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus Positive-strand RNA viruses (+ssRNA viruses) are a group of related viruses that have positive-sense, single-stranded genomes made of ribonucleic acid. The positiv ...

tobacco mosaic virus
(TMV) obtained by
Wendell Stanley Wendell Meredith Stanley (16 August 1904 – 15 June 1971) was an American biochemistry, biochemist, virology, virologist and Nobel laureate. Biography Stanley was born in Ridgeville, Indiana, and earned a BSc in Chemistry at Earlham College in ...
in 1935, the first electron micrographs of TMV produced in 1939 and the first
X-ray crystallographic analysis
X-ray crystallographic analysis
of TMV performed in 1941 proved that the virus was particulate.
Nitrogen fixation Nitrogen fixation is a chemical process by which molecular nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific st ...
, the process by which diatomic
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
gas is converted to
ammonium The ammonium cation An ion () is an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects t ...

ammonium
ions and becomes available to plants, was also investigated by Beijerinck. Bacteria perform nitrogen fixation, dwelling inside
root nodules Root nodules are found on the root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''p ...
of certain plants (
legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...

legume
s). In addition to having discovered a biochemical reaction vital to
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
fertility and
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
, Beijerinck revealed this archetypical example of
symbiosis Symbiosis (from Ancient Greek, Greek , , "living together", from , , "together", and , bíōsis, "living") is any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different Organism, biological organisms, be it Mutualism (biolog ...

symbiosis
between
plants Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Conversion (Doctor Who audio), "Conversion" (''Docto ...

plants
and
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
. Beijerinck discovered the phenomenon of bacterial sulfate reduction, a form of
anaerobic respiration Anaerobic respiration is respiration Respiration may refer to: Biology * Cellular respiration, the process in which nutrients are converted into useful energy in a cell ** Anaerobic respiration, cellular respiration without oxygen ** Maintenan ...
. He learned bacteria could use sulfate as a terminal electron acceptor, instead of oxygen. This discovery has had an important impact on our current understanding of biogeochemical cycles. '' Spirillum desulfuricans'', now known as ''
Desulfovibrio desulfuricans
Desulfovibrio desulfuricans
'', the first known sulfate-reducing bacterium, was isolated and described by Beijerinck. Beijerinck invented the
enrichment culture Enrichment culture is the use of certain growth media to favor the growth of a particular microorganism A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies ...
, a fundamental method of studying
microbe A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...
s from the environment. He is often incorrectly credited with framing the microbial ecology idea that "everything is everywhere, but, the environment selects", which was stated by
Lourens Baas Becking Lourens Gerhard Marinus Baas Becking (4 January 1895 in Deventer Deventer (; Sallaans dialect, Sallaans: ) is a List of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and Municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in the Salland historical r ...
.


Personal life

Beijerinck was a socially eccentric figure. He was verbally abusive to students, never married, and had few professional collaborations. He was also known for his
ascetic Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their ...

ascetic
lifestyle and his view of science and
marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term ...

marriage
being incompatible. His low popularity with his students and their parents periodically depressed him, as he very much loved spreading his enthusiasm for biology in the classroom. After his retirement at the Delft School of Microbiology in 1921, at age 70, he moved to
Gorssel Gorssel is a village in the Municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality of Lochem, Provinces of the Netherlands, province of Gelderland, Netherlands. It is located about 9 km (5.6 mi) southeast of the city centre of Deventer, Overijssel. In 201 ...
where he lived for the rest of his life, together with his two sisters.


Recognition

Beijerinckia (a genus of bacteria),
Beijerinckiaceae The Beijerinckiaceae are a family of Rhizobiales named after the Netherlands, Dutch microbiologist Martinus Willem Beijerinck. ''Beijerinckia'' is a genus of free-living aerobic nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Acidotolerant Beijerinckiaceae has been sh ...
(a family of
Hyphomicrobiales The ''Hyphomicrobiales'' are an Order (biology), order of Gram-negative Alphaproteobacteria. The rhizobia, which nitrogen fixation, fix nitrogen and are symbiotic with plant roots, appear in several different families. The four families ''Nitrob ...
), and Beijerinck (crater) are named after him.


See also

*
History of virology The history of virology – the scientific study of virus A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure ...
*
Nitrification ''Nitrification'' is the biological redox, oxidation of ammonia to nitrite followed by the oxidation of the nitrite to nitrate occurring through separate organisms or direct ammonia oxidation to nitrate in comammox bacteria. The transformation o ...
*
Clostridium beijerinckii ''Clostridium beijerinckii'' is a gram positive, bacterium#Morphology, rod shaped, Motility, motile bacterium of the genus ''Clostridium''. It has been isolated from feces and soil. Produces oval to subterminal spores. it is named after Martinus ...
*
Sergei Winogradsky Sergei Nikolaievich Winogradsky (or Vinogradskiy; ukr, Сергій Миколайович Виноградський; 1 September 1856 – 25 February 1953) was a Russian microbiologist A microbiologist (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek ma ...

Sergei Winogradsky


References


External links

*
Beijerinck and the Delft School of Microbiology
{{DEFAULTSORT:Beijerinck, Martinus 1851 births 1931 deaths Corresponding Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1917–1925) Corresponding Members of the USSR Academy of Sciences Delft University of Technology alumni Delft University of Technology faculty Dutch microbiologists 19th-century Dutch botanists 20th-century Dutch botanists Dutch phytopathologists Environmental microbiology Foreign Members of the Royal Society Honorary Members of the USSR Academy of Sciences Leeuwenhoek Medal winners Leiden University alumni Members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Nitrogen cycle Scientists from Amsterdam Dutch soil scientists Wageningen University and Research faculty