The most important events of the development of environmetal microbiology are enlisted in the followings:
1887 Sergei Winogradsky studies Beggiatoa and establishes the concept of autotrophy.
1888 Martinus Beijerinck develops the technique of enrichment culture.
1891 Winogradsky discovers the organisms responsible for nitrification is soil, which is of great importance in agriculture because nitrogen is a limiting nutrient in the soil.
1904 Martinus Beijerinck obtains the first pure culture of sulfur-oxidizing bacterium, Thiobacillus denitrificans.
1904 Cornelius Johan Koning suggests that fungi are critical for the decomposition of organic matter.
1909 Sigurd Orla-Jensen proposes the use of physiological characteristics for the classification of bacteria. He later publishes a monograph on lactic acid bacteria that establishes the criteria for assignment.
1920 The Society of American Bacteriologists presents a report on the characterization and classification of bacterial types that becomes the basis for Bergey's manual in 1923.
1961 Brian McCarthy and E. T. Bolton describe a method to compare genetic material from different species using hybridization. Using this technique it is possible to quantitatively compare the relatedness of the two species.
1965 Emile Zuckerkandl and Linus Pauling publish "Molecules as documents of evolutionary history", making a compelling case for the use of molecular sequences of biological molecules to determine evolutionary relationships.
1969 Don Brenner and colleagues establish a more reliable basis for the classification of clinical isolates among members of the Enterobacteriaceae. They use nucleic acid reassociation, where DNA of one organism is allowed to hybridize with another organism. This technique is used to help define a species.
1977 Carl Woese uses ribosomal RNA analysis to identify a third form of life, the Archaea, whose genetic makeup is distinct from but related to both Bacteria and Eucarya.
1977 Holger Jannasch discovers abundant life at the bottom of the ocean near deep sea hydrothermal vents. The entire system is dependent upon sulfur oxidizing microorganisms. Light and photosynthesis do not drive the process.
1982 Karl Stetter isolates hydrothermophilic microbes (Archaea) that can grow at 105°C. The discovery redefines the upper temperature at which life can exist.
1994 Gary Olsen, Carl Woese and Ross Overbeek summarize the state of phylogeny in prokaryotes. This causes scientists to rethink the classification of life and emphasizes the importance of microbes.