History of Soil Microbiology (1921 – 20th Century)
S. A. Waksman published the book “Principles of soil Microbiology" and thereby encouraged the research in soil microbiology (1927). Studied the role of soil as the source of antagonistic organisms with special reference to soil actinomycetes (1942) and discovered the antibiotic "Streptomycin" produced by Streptomyces griseus, a soil actinomycets (1944).
Rossi (1929) and Cholondy (1930) developed "Contact Slide / Buried slide" technique for studying soil micro flora.
Van Niel (1931USA) studied chemoautotrophic bacteria and bacterial photosynthesis.
Bortels (1936) demonstrated the importance of molybdenum in accelerating nitrogen fixation by nodulating legumes.
Garrett (1936) established the school in UK on "Soil fungi and ecological classification".
Kubo (1939, Japan) showed/proved-the role and importance of “leghaemoglobin” (Red pigment) present in root nodules of legumes in nitrogen fixation.
Ruinen (1956) Dutch microbiologist coined the term "Phyllosphere" to denote the region of leaf influenced by microorganisms.
Alien et al (1980) (suggested that VAM fungi stimulate plant growth by physiological effects other than by enhancement of nutrient uptake.
Jensen (1942) developed the method of studying nodulation on agar media in test tubes.
Barbara Mosse and J. W. Gerdemann (1944) reported occurrence of VAM (vesicular-arbuscular Mycorrhiza) fungi (Glomus, Aculopora genera) in the roots of agricultural crop plants which helps in the mobilization of phosphate.
Starkey (1945) studied role of bacteria (Bacillus and Clostridium) in the transformation of iron.
Barker (1945) studied anaerobic fermentation by methane bacteria (Methanococcus, Methanosarcina)
Thornton, (1947), studied root nodule bacteria form clovers.
Virtanen (1947) studied chemistry and mechanism of leghaemoglobin in nitrogen fixation.
Nutman (1948 England) studied hereditary mechanism of root nodulation in legumes.
Burris and Wilson (1957) developed the "Isotope technique" to quantify the amount of nitrogen fixed and further isolated and characterized the enzyme "Nitrogenase".
Bergersen (1957 Australia) elaborated the biochemistry of nitrogen fixation in legume root nodules.
Carnham (1960 USA) discovered nitrogen fixation by cell-free extract of Clostridium pasteurianum.
Alexander Fleming started the "School of soil microbiology" at Cornell University to study microbial aspects of pesticides degradation (1961) and developed the antibiotic "Penicillin" from the fungus Penicillium notatum (1929).
Date, Brockwell and Roughley (1962, Australia) developed the technique of bio-inoculants production & seed application.
Hardy & Associates (1968, USA) developed the technique of measurement of nitrogenase activity by acetylene-reduction test coupled with gas chromatography and thereby estimation of biological nitrogen fixation.
R J Swaby (1970, Australia) developed "Biosuper" containing rock phosphate sulphur and Thiobacillus which was used to enhance the phosphorus nutrition of plants.
Foog and Stewart (1970, UK) intensified the work on N2 fixing blue-green algae.
Trinick (1973, Australia) isolated Rhizobia from root nodule of genus Trema (Parasponia) which was an unique association of Rhizobium with non-leguminous plants causing root nodulation.
Dobereiner and associates (1975, Brazil) studied nitrogen fixing potential of Azospirillum in some tropical forage grasses like Digitaria, Panicum and some cereals like maize, sorghum, wheat, rye etc. in their roots. He reported four species of Azospirillum viz. A. lipoferum, A. brasilense, A. amazonense and A. serpedica. He coined the term “Associative Symbiosis” to denote the association between nitrogen fixing Azospirillum and cereal roots. Recently this terminology has been changed and renamed as “Diazotrophic Biocoenocis”.
Challham and Associates (1978) isolated an actinomycetous endophyte Frankia sp from root nodules of Camptonia peregrina which is again an example of non-leguminous root nodulation.
Dommergues & associates (France and Senegal) had discovered / reported nodules on stem of Sesbania rostrata which could fix nitrogen and therefore this legume can be used as an excellent green manure crop in low land rice cultivation. Similarly they also discovered N2 fixing stem nodules on Casurina sp caused by Frankia, an actinomycete.
Louis Pasteur Proved the role of soil microorganisms in biochemical changes of elements. He also showed that decomposition of organic residues in soil was dependent on the nature of organic matter and environmental conditions.
Brefeld Introduced the practice of isolating soil fungi by "Single Cell" technique and cultivating / growing them on solid media. He used gelatin (first solidifying agent) in culture media as solidifying agent.
Gerretsen & Mulder (Holland) studied "Phosphate mobilization" by soil microorganisms and showed the importance of molybdenum in nitrogen metabolism by microorganisms.
Fritch, fogg & Stewart (UK) and lyengar (India) studied fixation by algae in general and micro algae in particular. They also intensified the work on N2 fixing BGA.
James Trappe and Don Marx worked on ectomycorrhiza, colonizing the roots of forest trees.
W. S. Cook, G. C. Papavizas, J. Baker and N.S. Kerr contributed to the field of biological control of plant pathogens using antagonistic organisms from soil. From the beginning of 20th century emphasis was given to the study of microorganisms in soil in relation to their physiology, ecology, interrelationship, role in soil processes and soil fertility. Further role of fungi and actinomycetes in cellulose decomposition was better understood and cellulose decomposing, sulphur oxidizing, iron bacteria etc were isolated from soil and studied in detail.