Photograph of petri dish cultures growing mixed colonies of Escherichia coli, (larger, pink) & Proteus vulgaris, (smaller, brown), both bacteria, which under normal circumstances harmlessly inhabit the human intestines. They are generally involved in digestion - E. coli specifically fermenting lactose. They can, however, both become pathogenic; E. coli causing infections of the urinogenital tract, Proteus vulgaris of the urinary tract. The latter bacterium is also associated with decaying organic matter. E. coli is the most researched bacterium, the knowledge from which has lead to many of the advances in genetic engineering & biotechnology.
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