How the discoverer of E. coli did it by examining baby poop

How the discoverer of E. coli did it by examining baby poop

Escherichia coli (E. coli for friends) is a member of the enterobacteria family and is part of the microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract of homeothermic animals, such as humans.

Most E. coli do not cause problems . But some types can make you sick and cause diarrhea. One of them causes traveler’s diarrhea. The worst type of E. coli causes bloody diarrhea and can sometimes cause kidney failure and even death. Her discoverer first saw her in baby poop .

Theodor Escherich

The discoverer of this bacterium accomplished this feat by literally examining baby poop. This researcher, in fact, was the first person in the modern era who would show a significant scientific interest in feces .

His name was Theodor Escherich (hence the name that the bacteria would later bear), a young pediatric researcher from Munich who, in the late 19th century, microscopically placed samples of baby feces. As Bill Bryson describes it in his book The Human Body :

There he found 19 different types of microorganisms, which was considerably more than what he expected to find given that the only obvious sources of entry of these microorganisms into the bodies of babies were breast milk and the air they breathed.

The bacterium has become the most studied microbe in history. It has more genetic variability between two strains than all mammals on Earth . But Theodor died even before the bacteria got his name: when he discovered it, he named it Bacteria coli commune .