History of Cell Biology

History of Cell Biology

Cell biology

A cell is the smallest unit of life. Cell biology is a field of biological science in which we study the structural and functional properties of a cell.

History of cell biology:

  • In 322-384 B.C. Aristotle and Paracelsus concluded that “all animals and plants, however, complicated, are constituted of a few-element which are repeated in each of them”. They referred to these macroscopic structures of an organism such as roots, flowers, and leaves or segments.
  • In 1485 invention of magnifying lenses, the new world of the microscope was discovered by Da Vinci
  • A swiss biologist Cornard Genser (1516-1565) published the result of his students, a study on the structure group of protists called foraminifera.

Further development of cell biology was associated with the development of optical lenses and microscopes (compound microscopes).

Growth of cell biology during

  1. 16th and 18th centuries
  • In 1590 by Francis Janssen and Zacharias Janssen, the first useful compound was invented with 10X and 30X. These microscopes were called “flea glasses”.
  • In 1609 Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) invented the simple microscope.
  • Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694) was the first to use a microscope to examine thin slices of animal tissues from different organs such as the brain, liver. He also had studied on plant tissue and described the structural unit as “utricles”.
  • In 1665 Robert Hooke (1635-1703) named these structural units as cell (Latin: cella – hollow space).
  • Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) who was a microbiologist, was the first to observe living cells from rainwater collection in tubes. His sketches included numerous bacteria such as bacilli, cocci, and spirilla.


  1. 19th century
  • Mirbel, 1807: all plant tissues were also composed of cells
  • Rene Dutrochet, 1824: all animal and plant tissues were “aggregates of globular cells”
  • Robert Brown, 1831 discovered nucleus




  1. 20th century
Year Name Contribution
1855 C.Nageli and C.cramer Named the cell membrane
1857 A.Kolliker Discovered mitochondria
1865 G. Mendal Principles of heredity
1866 Haeckel Named plastid
1870 W. His Developed microtome
1873 A.Schneider Described chromosomes
1875 E.Starburger

E.van Beneden

Described mitosis in plant

1st observer the centriole

1878 Schleicher Coined the term Karyokinesis
1879 W.flemming Introduced the term chromatin
1882 W.Pfitzner Discovered chromomeres in chromosomes
1883 W. Roux



E. Metchnikoff

Chromosomes contain heredity

Introduced the term chloroplast

Details of chloroplast

Observed phagocytosis

1886 C.A. MacMunn Discovered cytochromes
1888 T. Boveri Coined the term centrosome
1898 Camillo Golgi Described Golgi complex
1900 C.Garnier Introduced the term Ergastoplasm
1901 e.strasburger Introduced term plasmodesmata
1903 E.Buchner Discovered enzymes
1904 F.meves presence of mt. in plants
1905 J.e.Moore Coined term meiosis
1906 M.Tswett Invented column chromatography
1907 R.G. Harrison Tissue culture techniques
1908 E. Metchnikoff & P. Ehrlich Phagocytosis of bacteria during infection
1915 R. Wilstatter Studies on chlorophyll and other plant pigments
1922 A.V. Hill & O.Mayerhof Relationship btw. Muscle metabolism and lactic acid
1930 K.landsteiner Blood groups and agglutinins or antigens
1933 T.H. Morgan



Role of chr. In the transmission of heredity

Techniques of electrophoresis

1935 J.danielli Sandwich model of plasma membrane
1937 H.A. Krebs Discovered citric acid cycle
1939 F.A. Lipman Proposed metabolic role for ATP
1942 Martin & Synge Partition chromatography leads to paper chromatography
1943 A.Claude Isolated cell components such as ribosomes, mitochondria
1945 K.R. Porter Discovered E.R(endoplasmic reticulum)
1947 C.F. Cori Glycogen metabolism
1948 C.du Duve


Isolated Lysosomes

Chemistry of proteins

1953 Robinson & brown Ribosomes in plant cell
1955 G.E. palade Observed ribosomes in animal cell and detected RNA
1956 J.H. Tjio and A. levan 1st correct human chromosome sequence
1960 Park and Pon Discovered Quantosomes in chloroplast
1961 M. Calvin Photosynthesis, Calvin cycle
1962 M.F. Perutz Studies on the structure of globular proteins
1963 J. Eccles Role of sodium and potassium ions in nerve impulses
1964 K. Bloch & F. lynem Cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism
1965 De Duve Coined term peroxisome for catalase
1971 E.A. Sutherland Mechanism of hormones, roles of cyclic AMP
1972 S.J. singer & G.L. Nicolson Fluid mosaic model
1982 Aaron Klug Studies on the structure of complicated biological molecules such as proteins and nucleic acid
1984 Schwartz and cantor Developed pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
1987 S. Tonegawa Discovered the field of antibodies(immunobiology)




Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Evolution and Ecology (S. Chand)

P.S. Verma, V.K. Agarwal


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