This article is about generation of life from existing life. For the biogenetic law of Ernst Haeckel, see recapitulation theory. For the chemical origin of life, see abiogenesis.
Biogenesis is the law that living things come only from other living things, e.g. a spider lays eggs, which develop into spiders. It may also refer to biochemical processes of production in living organisms.
Spontaneous generationMain article: Spontaneous generation
The ancient Greeks believed that living things could spontaneously come into being from nonliving matter, and that the goddess Gaia could make life arise spontaneously from stones – a process known as Generatio spontanea. Aristotle disagreed, but he still believed that creatures could arise from dissimilar organisms or from soil. Variations of this concept of spontaneous generation still existed as late as the 17th century, but towards the end of the 17th century, a series of observations and arguments began that eventually discredited such ideas. This advance in scientific understanding was met with much opposition, with personal beliefs and individual prejudices often obscuring the facts.
Francesco Redi, an Italian physician, proved as early as 1668 that higher forms of life did not originate spontaneously, but proponents of abiogenesis claimed that this did not apply to microbes and continued to hold that these could arise spontaneously. Attempts to disprove the spontaneous generation of life from non-life continued in the early 19th century with observations and experiments by Franz Schulze and Theodor Schwann. In 1745, John Needham added chicken broth to a flask and boiled it. He then let it cool and waited. Microbes grew, and he proposed it as an example of spontaneous generation. In 1768, Lazzaro Spallanzani repeated Needham's experiment but removed all the air from the flask. No growth occurred. In 1854, Heinrich Schröder (1810–1885) and Theodor von Dusch, and in 1859, Schröder alone, repeated the Helmholtz filtration experiment and showed that living particles can be removed from air by filtering it through cotton-wool.
In 1864, Louis Pasteur finally announced the results of his scientific experiments. In a series of experiments similar to those performed earlier by Needham and Spallanzani, Pasteur demonstrated that life does not arise in areas that have not been contaminated by existing life. Pasteur's empirical results were summarized in the phrase Omne vivum ex vivo, Latin for "all life [is] from life".
Law of Biogenesis
The Law of Biogenesis, attributed to Louis Pasteur, states that life arises from pre-existing life, not from nonliving material. Pasteur's (and others) empirical results were summarized in the phrase Omne vivum ex vivo, Latin for "all life [is] from life", also known as the "law of biogenesis". Pasteur stated: "La génération spontanée est une chimère" ("Spontaneous generation is a dream").
- ^ The controversy over spontaneous generation
- ^ McKendrick, John Gray (1899). Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz. London: Fisher Unwin. pp. 162. ISBN 9781150667695. http://books.google.com/?id=T2wPAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA29&dq=helmholtz%20cotton%20putrefaction&pg=PA29#v=onepage&q.
- ^ The microbial world: a look at things small
- ^ Biogenesis and Abiogenesis: Critiques and Addresses
- ^ Pasteur's Papers on the Germ Theory
- ^ Louis Pasteur: External links
- Origin of life
- Biology theories
- History of biology
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