Virus is the Latin word for toxin, Before The advancement of science, all mysterious disease in human kind were called viruses. Virus history began when a man A. Mayer, a German scientist, discovered one in 1883. His research was on the cause of tobacco mosaic disease. The disease hindered the growth of the tobacco plant (dwarfism) and resulted in spotted leaves. Mayer found that other healthy plant could be infected just by spraying the extract of the disease plant.
Mayer concluded that the disease was caused by a very small bacterium. This bacterium cannot be seen even with a microscope.
Mayer’s hypothesis was tested by a Russian Scientist named Dmitri Iwanowski in 1892. He filtered the tobacco leaf extract in away. Once the filtrate was spayed to healthy plants, they also got infected by the mosaic disease.
Iwanowski suspected that the mosaic disease was caused by another organism smaller than a bacterium . However, he was still in doubt. He thought that he could have made an error with the filtration. Just as Mayer did, he concluded that a bacterium was the cause of the disease.
Six years later, a Dutch scientist named Martinus W. Beijerick did an experiment the same as what Iwanoski’s method of filtration was the correct method. He postulated the presence of an agent that infected the tobacco plant, although he did not know what it was. He called the infected agent as filterable virus because it could no be observed with microscope.
We now understand that viruses cause disease in humans, animals and plants. The term filterable virus was shortened into virus. Iwanowski and Beijenerick were considered the discoverers of viruses.
Viruses have distinct characteristics that separate them from the rest of the living organism. They differ from other organism in the classification system. Virology is the study of virus. We will know more about the characteristic and the roles viruses have in human life