RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Plague bacterium. Artwork of a section through a Yersinia pestis bacterium, the cause of plague (black death). This bacterium comprises DNA genetic material in a region known as the nucleoid (orange, down centre of cell). This is embedded in the cytoplasm (purple). The cytoplasm is contained within a lumpy surface coat (brown). The cytoplasm contains several types of plasmid, pieces of DNA that replicate independently from the nucleoid DNA. These include pFra (yellow globules), pPst (blue globules) and pYV (green globules). Plague causes septicaemia (blood poisoning), lung infection and haemorrhaging, and was the cause of millions of deaths in the Middle Ages.
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