Leeuwenhoek, Antony van

Leeuwenhoek, Antony van

(än`tōnē vän lā`vənho͞ok'), 1632–1723, Dutch student of natural history and maker of microscopes, b. Delft. His use of lenses in examining cloth as a draper's apprentice probably led to his interest in lens making. He assembled over 247 microscopes, some of which magnified objects 270 times. In the course of his examination of innumerable microorganisms and tissue samples, he gave the first complete descriptions of the bacteriabacteria
[pl. of bacterium], microscopic unicellular prokaryotic organisms characterized by the lack of a membrane-bound nucleus and membrane-bound organelles. Once considered a part of the plant kingdom, bacteria were eventually placed in a separate kingdom, Monera.
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, the protozoansprotozoan
, informal term for the unicellular heterotrophs of the kingdom Protista. Protozoans comprise a large, diverse assortment of microscopic or near-microscopic organisms that live as single cells or in simple colonies and that show no differentiation into tissues.
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 (which he called animalcules), spermatozoa, and striped muscle. He also observed the red blood cells in his detailed study of capillary circulation. He was elected to the Royal Society of England in recognition of his work.

Bibliography

See his collected letters (Vol. I–VI, 1939–61).

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