BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Clostridium botulinum. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning. C. botulinum is strictly anaerobic, gram-positive, and has rod-shaped cells (bacilli). The species occurs naturally in the soil but can also flourish in badly preserved canned meat. Botulism is caused by ingesting the powerful neurotoxin produced by the bacteria, which poisons the central nervous system and can cause lethal heart or lung failure. The toxin is destroyed by cooking although the bacteria itself can survive the heat in the form of spores. Magnification x3,500 at 35mm size.
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