Martinus Beijerinck, Dutch discoverer of viruses

Martinus Beijerinck, Dutch discoverer of viruses


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Martinus Beijerinck. Portrait of Martinus Willem Beijerinck (1851-1931), Dutch botanist and bacteriologist who was the first to discover viruses. After graduating in chemical engineering from Delft Polytechnic, Beijerinck devoted himself to life sciences. From the early 1880s he studied tobacco mosaic disease. He showed that juice pressed from the plants carried an infective agent. He showed that the agent was not bacterial as it could pass through unglazed porcelain which retained bacteria. Beijerinck named the agent a filterable virus (from the Latin for 'poison'). Viruses are now known to be organisms too small to be seen with a light microscope.

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