Sunday 17 September 2023

September 17 - International Microorganism Day

On this date back in 1683, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek reported the first description of a single-celled organism with his letter to the Royal Society of London. This is an initiative which aims to raise awareness about the importance of microorganisms and microbiology research among the general public and microbe enthusiasts.




Van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and to experiment with microbes, which he originally referred to as dierkens, diertgens or diertjes (Dutch for "small animals" or ‘animalcules’. He was the first to relatively determine their size.


Most of the "animalcules" are now referred to as unicellular organisms, although he observed multicellular organisms in pond water. He was also the first to document microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa, red blood cells, crystals in gouty tophi, and among the first to see blood flow in capillaries. Although Van Leeuwenhoek did not write any books, he did publish some of his work, and he described his discoveries in letters to the Royal Society.


van Leeuwenhoek made more than 500 optical lenses. He also created at least 25 single-lens microscopes, of differing types. These microscopes were made of silver or copper frames, holding hand-made lenses. Those that have survived are capable of magnification up to 275 times. It is suspected that Van Leeuwenhoek possessed some microscopes that could magnify up to 500 times. Although he has been widely regarded as a dilettante or amateur, his scientific research was of remarkably high quality.


You can follow #InternationalMicroorganismDay on social media (@IntMicroDay): Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube. 



Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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