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Sergei Winogradsky

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Sergei Winogradsky

Sergei Winogradsky
Born 1 September 1856
Kiev, Russian Empire)
Died 25 February 1953 (aged 96)
Brie-Comte-Robert, France
Citizenship Russian and French
Nationality Russian
Fields Microbiology
Institutions Imperial Conservatoire of Music in St Petersburg (piano)
University of Saint Petersburg
University of Strasbourg
Pasteur Institute
Alma mater University of Saint Petersburg
Known for Nitrogen cycle
Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria
Influences Anton de Bary
Nikolai Menshutkin (chemistry)
Nevskia Famintzin (botany)
Martinus Beijerinck
Influenced Selman Waksman
Martinus Beijerinck
Notable awards Leeuwenhoek Medal (1935)
Fellow of the Royal Society[1]

Sergei Nikolaievich Winogradsky ForMemRS[1] (or Vinogradskyi; Ukrainian: Сергій Миколайович Виноградський, Russian: Серге́й Николаевич Виноградский; 1 September 1856 – 25 February 1953) was a Ukrainian-Russian microbiologist, ecologist and soil scientist who pioneered the cycle of life concept.[2][3]

Winogradsky discovered the first known form of lithotrophy during his research with Beggiatoa in 1887. He reported that Beggiatoa oxidized hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as an energy source and formed intracellular sulfur droplets.[4] This research provided the first example of lithotrophy, but not autotrophy.

His research on [5]


Winogradsky was born in Kiev (then in the Russian Empire) and entered the Imperial Conservatoire of Music in St Petersburg in 1875 to study piano.[1] However, after two years of music training, he entered the University of Saint Petersburg in 1877 to study chemistry under Nikolai Menshchutkin and botany under Andrei Sergeevich Famintzin.[1]

He received a diploma in 1881 and stayed at the St. Petersburg University for a degree of master of science in botany in 1884.

In 1885, he began work at the University of Strasbourg under the renowned botanist Anton de Bary; Winogradsky became renowned for his work on sulfur bacteria.

In 1888, he relocated to Zurich, where he began investigation into the process of nitrification, identifying the genera Nitrosomonas and Nitrosococcus, which oxidizes ammonium to nitrite, and Nitrobacter, which oxidizes nitrite to nitrate.

He returned to St. Petersburg for the period 1891–1905, and headed the division of general microbiology of the Institute of Experimental Medicine; during this period, he identified the obligate anaerobe Clostridium pasteurianum, which is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen.

In 1901, he was elected honorary member of the Moscow Society of Naturalists and, in 1902, corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences.

He retired from active scientific work in 1905, dividing his time between his private estate and Switzerland. In 1922, he accepted an invitation to head the division of agricultural bacteriology at the Pasteur Institute at an experimental station at Brie-Comte-Robert, France, about 30 km from Paris. During this period, he worked on a number of topics, among them iron bacteria, nitrifying bacteria, nitrogen fixation by Azotobacter, cellulose-decomposing bacteria, and culture methods for soil microorganisms. Winogradsky retired from active life in 1940 and died in Brie-Comte-Robert in 1953.


Winogradsky discovered various biogeochemical cycles and parts of these cycles. These discoveries include


Winogradsky is best known for discovering chemoautotrophy, which soon became popularly known as microbial ecology and environmental microbiology.

The Winogradsky column remains an important display of chemoautotrophy and microbial ecology, demonstrated in microbiology lectures around the world.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Thornton, H. G. (1953). "Sergei Nicholaevitch Winogradsky. 1856-1953".  
  2. ^ Waksman, S. A. (1953). "Sergei Nikolaevitch Winogradsky: 1856-1953". Science 118 (3054): 36–37.  
  3. ^ Dworkin, M. (2012). Gutnick, David, ed. "Sergei Winogradsky: A founder of modern microbiology and the first microbial ecologist". FEMS Microbiology Reviews 36 (2): 364–379.  
  4. ^ Winogradsky S (1887). "Über Schwefelbakterien". Bot. Zeitung (45): 489–610. 
  5. ^ Dworkin, Martin; Falkow, Stanley (2006). The Prokaryotes: A Handbook on the Biology of Bacteria: Proteobacteria: Gamma Subclass (3rd ed.). Springer. p. 784.  
  6. ^ Madigan, Michael T. (2012). Brock biology of microorganisms (13th ed ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.  

Further reading

External links

  • Sergei Winogradsky at Cycle of Life website including images.
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