La moisissure et la bactérie: deconstructing the fable of the discovery of penicillin by Ernest Duchesne

2016-06-24T10:19:45Z (GMT) by Gilbert Shama
Ernest Duchesne (1874–1912) completed his thesis on microbial antagonism in 1897 in Lyon. His work lay unknown for fifty years, but on being brought to light led to his being credited with having discovered penicillin prior to Alexander Fleming. The claims surrounding Duchesne are examined here both from the strictly microbiological perspective, and also for what they reveal about how the process of discovery is frequently misconstrued. The combined weight of evidence presented here militates strongly against the possibility that the species of Penicillium that Duchesne worked with produced penicillin.