Knowledge that microbes lead fascinating chemical lives is as old as microbiology itself. Observations in the late 19th century by John Scott Burdon-Sanderson that were elaborated on by Pasteur and Joubert gave rise to the idea that compounds secreted by some microbes could have remarkable effects on the lives of others. In 1871, he reported that Penicillium inhibited the growth of bacteria, an observation which places him among the forerunners of Alexander Fleming.
- Burdon-Sanderson J.13th Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council [John Simon], with Appendix, 1870. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office; 1871. Appendix No. 5—Further report of researches concerning the intimate pathology of contagion. The origin and distribution of microzymes (bacteria) in water, and the circumstances which determine their existence in the tissue and liquids of the living body; pp. 56–66.
- Pasteur L, Joubert JF. Charbon et septicemie.C R Soc Biol Paris. 1877;85:101–115.