Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Discovery of Staphylococcus aureus

Alexander Ogston (1844-1929) was a Scottish surgeon who in 1880 first observed staphylococci while performing experiments to prove his theory that cocci were pathogenic microorganisms and played a fundamental role in the formation of pus-filled infections.  He reported his observation at the Ninth Surgical Congress in Berlin in 1880.

He found the bacterium during microscopical examination of a pus sample removed form the leg of a young man in his private laboratory which he built behind his house in Aberdeen.

Ogston hypothesized that acute abscesses were caused by micrococci. After injecting pus from acute abscesses into guinea pigs and mice, he demonstrated that new abscesses formed, followed by signs of septicemia. He was able to stain the cocci using methylaniline which allowed him to study the different types of cocci in reference to their growth forms.

In 1882 Ogston described the cocci, which he named Staphylococcus, as being ‘individual spheres in masses looked like bunch of grapes’.

In 1884 Anton J. Rosenbach (1842-1923), a German surgeon, isolated two pigmented varieties in pure culture, and provided the first taxonomic description of the new genus, dividing it into a ‘golden’ species (Staphylococcus pyogenes var. aureus) and ‘white’ species (S. pyogenes var. albus).

The later species is now named S. epidermidis.
Discovery of Staphylococcus aureus

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