Objective: To test the organism's susceptibility to antibiotic penicillin.
Test Procedure and Interpretation: See the Optochin Disc Test.
Discovery of Penicillin
The discovery of penicillin's antibiotic powers is attributed to Alexander Fleming. The story goes that he returned to his laboratory one day in September 1928 to find a Petri dish containing Staphylococcus bacteria with its lid removed.
The dish had become contaminated by blue-green mold. He noted that there was a clear ring surrounding the mold where the bacteria had been inhibited from growing.
This discovery of the mold - Penicillium notatum - and his recognition of its special powers set the wheels in motion to create one of the most used drugs in medical history.
In March 1942, Anne Miller became the first civilian to be treated successfully with penicillin having almost died from a huge infection following a miscarriage.
Although Fleming often gets the accolade for having invented the first antibiotic, there was a lot of work to do before penicillin could become as commonly used and useful as it is today.
The bulk of the work was eventually carried out by scientists who had a much better-stocked laboratory and a deeper understanding of chemistry than Fleming. Dr. Howard Florey, Dr. Norman Heatley, and Dr. Ernst Chain carried out the first in-depth and focused studies.
Interestingly, and with impressive foresight, Fleming's Nobel Prize acceptance speech warned that the overuse of penicillin might, one day, lead to bacterial resistance.