Discovery of Virus

Discovery of Virus

  • First virus to be discovered – Tobacco Mosaic Virus.
  • Two scientists contributed to this discovery.
  • First-person to call the term ‘virus’ – Beijerinck
  • He examined that this particle was able to migrate in agar gel.
  • He called it an infectious soluble agent.
  • Ivanoski examined the extract of the tobacco infected leaves reported that it was infectious even after filtration through Chamberland filter candle.
  • These two scientists gave complementary contributions to the discovery of the virus.
  • “Virus” was coined from Latin word which means slimly liquid or poison.

Discovery of Virus






Friedrich Loeffler and Paul Froch The causative agent of foot and mouth disease is filterable(first animal virus)


Walter Reed Yellow fever virus (first human virus)


Remlinger, Riffat Bay Rabies Virus


Negri Variola virus


Ellerman, Bang Chicken Leukemia virus


Karl Landsteiner & E. Popper Poliovirus


Peyton Rous Rous Sarcoma virus


Federik Twort, Felix D ’ Herelle Bacteriophage



          Swine     influenza virus

1933         Smith

Human Influenza Virus

Discovery of Virus Discovery of Virus

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Discovery of Virus

  • Earlier the scientists examined the filtered tissues. These filters were used to remove bacteria from infected tissues.
  • When treated with virus solutions the filter remained infective.
  • The scientists then recognised something smaller than the bacteria that could cause infection.
  • The viruses were not seen until the 1930s.
  • After the electron microscope was discovered, the first virus was seen for the first time in 1935.
  • Many hypothesis have been proposed for the origin of the virus .
  • The two main hypotheses are :
  1. Small viruses started as loose pieces of nucleic acid which originally came from living cells like bacteria.
  2. Large viruses first were the parasitic cells inside bigger host cells. Gradually genes required to survive and reproduce outside the host cells were lost.