Contribution of Robert Koch in Microbiology

At the time when Pasteur was involved in his researches , another great scientist Robert Koch ( 1843 – 1918) was also making history with his work of wide ranging importance on micro –organisms . The discoveries of Koch are considered by many to be of the same importance as those of Pasteur. Besides his other important researches , Koch did painstaking investigations in the isolation and identification of various bacterial species. It is for this reason that Koch laid the foundations of such important and modern sciences like medical microbiology , bacteriology and virology.
Koch was a medical doctor in a small town in Germany. There his attention was drawn to the dreaded and sometimes fatal disease anthrax. The disease starts like common cold, then the skin becomes irritated and extremely itchy and very soon the skin erupts into boils. The pathogenic bacteria enter the circulatory system and cause fever , shock and many a times death. During the discovery of the causative pathogen of anthrax , Koch utilized extremely common type of equipment and techniques. The equipment , culture media and the techniques developed by Koch are still used more or less unaltered even today in many modern microbiology laboratories.
On the basis of discovery of causative bacteria of anthrax by Koch for prevention of the disease , Pasteur prepared a vaccine which was also successfully applied. Besides isolation and identification of the bacteria causing anthrax , Koch also discovered and described the causative pathogenic bacteria of such important diseases like cholera (Vibrio cholerae ) and tuberculosis ( Mycobacterium tuberculosis ) . On the basis of these researches the concept emerged that a specific microbe is the cause of a particular disease.






The methods of study of bacteria are considered as a gift of Koch and at the present time these are referred to as Koch’s postulates. These postulates can be briefly stated as under:

  • A specific microbe is always associated with a particular disease.
  • A pure culture of the microbe can be prepared by growing the bacteria in the laboratory.
  • If the microbes taken from the pure culture are inoculated into a healthy individual, then as a result the same particular disease appears in the individual.
  • If the microbes from the patient are removed and grown in the laboratory , then once again their pure culture can be prepared.
    The next twenty years after the researches of Koch are considered as the golden age of bacteriology because during this period ending by the year 1900 almost all disease – causing pathogenic bacteria were isolated and identified.

Author:- Dr. Anupama Goyal
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