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Unformatted text preview: JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, Aug. 1992,p.4629-4631 0022-538X/92/084629-03$02.00/0 Copyright 1992,American SocietyforMicrobiology MINIREVIEW One Hundred Years ofVirology ALICE LUSTIG AND ARNOLD J.LEVINE* DepartmentofMolecularBiology, Lewis Thomas Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey08544-1014 One hundred years ago a young Russian scientist,Dimitri Ivanovsky (1864 to 1920), presented a paper before the Academy ofSciences ofSt.Petersburg inwhich he stated that"the sap ofleavesinfectedwithtobacco mosaicdisease retainsitsinfectiousproperties even afterfiltrationthrough Chamberland filter candles" (10). This observation sug- gested a disease agent smaller than any known before and was the first step in a long series of observations and experiments thatledto thediscoveryofviruses. While itisoften difficult to assign a single date to the discoveryofviruses,Ivanovskyisgenerallygivencreditfor firstrecognizing an entity that isfilterable and submicro- scopic in size that might well be the cause of a disease. Indeed, the term filterable agent was the name used to describe these organisms well before the term viruses w a s specifically applied to them. Filtration became an experi- mentaldefinition.Ivanovsky'scontributionsandpriorityfor the discoverywere "willingly acknowledged" by Martinus Beijerinck who, unaware of Ivanovsky's work, published similarfindings6years laterin1898(3).Fiftyyears later,in 1944,Wendell StanleywritinginScience statedthat"there isconsiderablejustificationforregarding Ivanovsky as the fatherofthe new scienceofVirology" (17). The nineteenthcenturysaw thefinaldefeatoftheconcept favoringspontaneous generationoforganismsandan accep- tance of the germ theory of disease. The new definitionof causalityfora disease inherentinRobertKoch'spostulates and theproofthatanthraxincattlewas caused byBacillus anthraxus hada powerfulimpacton thescientistsworkingin the lastdecades ofthenineteenth century. Although some, likethe great anatomist Jacob Henle (ateacher ofRobert Koch andgrandfatherofWernerHenle),hadtheimagination to conceive of infectious agents with the properties of virusesas earlyas 1840,theseideasfailedtogainacceptance for a lack of experimental evidence. The path to that evidence beginswith threescientistsindependentlyworking on the tobacco mosaic disease, Adolf Mayer, Dimitri Ivanovsky, and Martinus Beijerinck (Fig. 1). Dimitri Ivanovsky, son of a landowner in Kherson Gu- berniya, was born inthe villageofNix near St.Petersburg on 28 October 1864. After the death of his father when Ivanovsky and his siblings were still young, the family moved to a poor sectionof St.Petersburg.ThereIvanovsky attended secondary school and served as a tutor to supple- ment hismother's pension. Ivanovsky was educated at the gymnasium of Gdov and at St. Petersburg, graduating as a goldmedalistinthespringof1883.Afterdefendinghisthesis "On Two Diseases of Tobacco Plants," Ivanovsky was awarded the degree of candidate ofscience in 1888 by St....
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