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Volume 27, Number 1—January 2021
Etymologia

Etymologia: Petri Dish

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Monika MahajanComments to Author 
Author affiliation: Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

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Petri Dish [pe′tre ′dish]

The Petri dish is named after the German inventor and bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri (1852–1921). In 1887, as an assistant to fellow German physician and pioneering microbiologist Robert Koch (1843–1910), Petri published a paper titled “A minor modification of the plating technique of Koch.” This seemingly modest improvement (a slightly larger glass lid), Petri explained, reduced contamination from airborne germs in comparison with Koch’s bell jar.

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Top left: Julius Richard Petri, inventor of the Petri dish, »1888. Unknown photographer, from file Gruppenaufnahme von Bakteriologischen Kursen im RKI um 1888-A.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31684326. Top right: Robert Koch. Unknown photographer, from the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services. Bottom: Petri dish showing Bacillus anthracis bacterial colonies grown on sheep’s blood agar for 24 hours. Photograph, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Megan Mathias and J. Todd Parker, 2009

Figure. Top left: Julius Richard Petri, inventor of the Petri dish, »1888. Unknown photographer, from file Gruppenaufnahme von Bakteriologischen Kursen im RKI um 1888-A.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31684326. Top right:...

Similar alterations had been suggested earlier by Slavonian researcher Emanuel Klein (1844–1925), who was working in England and described a nearly identical dish in his 1885 book Micro-organisms. An 1886 research paper published by Percy Frankland (1858–1946) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society portrayed a comparable shallow, circular, and covered dish. Available historical complications accord credit of discovery of the Petri dish to other bacteriologists (Figure).

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References

  1. Central Sheet for Bacteriology and Parasite Science [in German]. Biodiversity Heritage Library. Volume 1, 1887 [cited 2020 Aug 25]. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/210666#page/313/mode/1up
  2. Petri  JR. A minor modification of the plating technique of Koch [in German]. Cent für Bacteriol und Parasitenkd. 1887;1:27980.
  3. Shama  G. The “Petri” dish: a case of simultaneous invention in bacteriology. Endeavour. 2019;43:116. DOIPubMed
  4. The big story: the Petri dish. The Biomedical Scientist. Institute of Biomedical Science [cited 2020 Aug 25]. https://thebiomedicalscientist.net/science/big-story-petri-dish

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2701.et2701

Original Publication Date: December 18, 2020

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Table of Contents – Volume 27, Number 1—January 2021

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Monika Mahajan, Department of Medical Microbiology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Research Block A, Sector 12, Chandigarh 160012, India or 


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Page created: December 18, 2020
Page updated: December 21, 2020
Page reviewed: December 21, 2020
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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