1887

Chapter 17 : Did van Leeuwenhoek Observe Yeast Cells in 1680?

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Did van Leeuwenhoek Observe Yeast Cells in 1680?, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

It is common knowledge that beer was produced by the ancient Egyptians and that van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) was the first to see yeast cells. However, what was defined as yeast in the seventeenth century is different from that of today. So did van Leeuwenhoek really observe yeast? In attempting to answer this question it might be helpful to describe some fundamental work on yeast by Charles Cagnard-Latour (1777–1859) published in 1838. (Recall that the cell theory dates from 1839.) This tells us of the beer brewing and wine making state of the art around that time. It was known that the addition of yeast to properly treated grains of cereals would produce alcohol and carbon dioxide from the extracted malt sugars. In the times of van Leeuwenhoek, yeast was considered an inanimate paste with no connection to living cells. What did Cagnard-Latour see? It is important to use the term “see” because, as he emphasized, he wished to approach yeast research in a new way, that is, by employing a microscope. (This approach was also followed by F. T. Kützig and Th. A. Schwann at the same time.)

Citation: Nanninga N. 2016. Did van Leeuwenhoek Observe Yeast Cells in 1680?, p 72-75. In Schaechter M, In the Company of Microbes: 10 Years of Small Things Considered. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819606.ch17
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Citation: Nanninga N. 2016. Did van Leeuwenhoek Observe Yeast Cells in 1680?, p 72-75. In Schaechter M, In the Company of Microbes: 10 Years of Small Things Considered. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819606.ch17
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Nanne Nanninga is Emeritus Professor of Molecular Cytology, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Citation: Nanninga N. 2016. Did van Leeuwenhoek Observe Yeast Cells in 1680?, p 72-75. In Schaechter M, In the Company of Microbes: 10 Years of Small Things Considered. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819606.ch17
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References

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1. Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. Letter to Thomas Gale of June 14th 1680, pp. 6-10 in the second printing carried out by Hendrik van Croonevelt at Delft in 1694.
2. Cagnard-Latour CMémoire sur la fermentation vineuse: présenté á L›Académie des Sciences, le juin 1837. Comptes rendus des séances de l› Académie des Sciences, l›octobre 1838.
3. Cornish-Bowden A1997 p 67–122. In Yeast. The Contemporary Review (1871). Collected Essays VIII. Herbert C. Friedmann. From Friedrich Wöhler’s urine to Eduard Buchner’s alcohol. From Beer in an Old Bottle: Eduard Buchner and the Growth of Biochemical Knowledge. Universitat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain.
4. Barnett JABeginnings of microbiology and biochemistry: the contribution of yeast research.Microbiology2003149557567

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