The scientist who in the 19th Century made the greatest contribution to the science of microbiology was Antoine Bechamp* (1816-1908), many of whose discoveries, all recorded in the annals of the French Academy of Science, have erroneously been credited to Louis Pasteur** (1822-1895)

*Professor Pierre Jaques Antoine Bechamp, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour; Commander of the Rose of Brazil; Officer of Public Instruction; Master of Pharmacy; Doctor of Science; Doctor of Medicine; Professor of Medical Chemistry and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Montpellier; Fellow and Professor of Physics and of Toxicology Higher School of Pharmacy, Strasbourg; Professor Chemistry, Strasbourg; Member of the Imperial Academy of Medicine of France and the Society of Pharmacy of Paris; Member of the Agricultural Society of Mulhouse for the discovery of manufacturing process of aniline; Silver Medallist of the Committee of Historic works and of Learned Societies, for discoveries in wine production; Professor of Biological Chemistry and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Lille.

**Bechamp or Pasteur? A Lost Chapter in the History of Biology (1923) by E. Douglas Hurne (founded on a manuscript by Montague R. Leverson, MD (Baltimore) MA Ph.D.

There was no love lost between the two French scientists, whose personalities were entirely different, and the record shows that although Pasteur plagiarised much of Bechamp's work, his popularity survived largely because of the favor he curried from Napoleon III and the High Church. On the other hand, Bechamp was immersed entirely in his work, seeking neither favor or fortune, and although devout in his religious faith he was held in disfavor by the Bishops of the Church, who could not comprehend the unconventional manner in which he expressed his faith.

Before Bechamp's time the theory of the cell being the basic unit of life was well established, but Bechamp's investigations showed that the cell itself was made up of smaller living entities capable of intelligent behavior and self-reproduction. He referred to these as 'molecular granulations' and gave them the name of microzymas, which he said were the real basic units of life.

Bechamp described how in certain conditions microzymas could develop into bacteria within a cell and could, if the right conditions persisted, become pathological, so that infection could develop in the body without the acquisition of the germ from an outside source. These observations supported the belief of Professor Claude Bernard (1813-78), who contended that no matter where germs came from they presented a danger only if the body was in a run-down state due to a disturbed milieu interieur.

Because other researchers without Bechamp's finesse had not observed the changes in form capable by various microbes, it was believed in orthodox circles that each form of the same microbe, at the time it was observed, was an entirely different microbe in its own right which remained always the same. Thus as the 19th Century came to a close, two schools of thought existed: pleomorphism as propounded by Bechamp and Ernst Almquist (1852-1946) of Sweden, and monomorphism as propounded by Pasteur and Robert Koch* (1843-1910) of Germany. About this time Germany became predominant in world medical research, and because the germ theory of disease had become firmly entrenched in the minds of orthodox doctors, the research into microbiology became focussed more on medical problems than on the general study of biology.

*Robert Koch (see footnote in Chapter 6: Human Errors and Human Ills) had noted but never investigated the pleomorphic forms of the typhoid bacillus.

Nevertheless, evidence supporting the concept of pleomorphism kept appearing. * In 1907 Doctors A. Neisser and Rudolph Massine described the mutation-like phenomena in a strain of B coli, and in 1914 Philip Eisenberg published a series of papers on bacterial variability. A similar study was published in 1918 by bacteriologist Karl Baerthlein, which later received high praise from Dr Phillip Hadley, University of Pittsburg, in his paper "Microbic Disassociation" (Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol. 40, 1927).

*In the chapter which follows it is described how in the study of the disease beriberi, ten different researchers reported they had discovered the germ that caused the disease. Each germ was different and none of them turned out to be the cause at all, but what is indicated is the probability that at least some of the microbes isolated from beriberi patients represented different stages of pleomorphism.