Bacteria, Viruses, and Protists

Historical Interest in Bacteria

What is a Petri dish, and who developed it?

The Petri dish—a shallow glass or plastic dish consisting of two round, overlapping halves (also called a cell culture dish)—is used to grow bacteria and other microorganisms on a certain medium, usually in the nutrient agar. The top of the dish is larger than the bottom so that when the dish is closed, a seal is created, preventing contamination of the culture; some are also loose-fitting, with either used depending on the experiment. This device was developed in 1887 by German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri (1852–1921), a member of Robert Koch’s laboratory (for more about Koch, see above). Petri dishes are very easy to use, can be stacked on each other to save space, and are one of the most common items in a microbiology laboratory.


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