KENT WOOD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY KENT WOOD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Clostridium bacteria. Coloured light micrograph (LM) of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning. C. botulinum is anaerobic (active in low oxygen conditions), Gram-positive and has rod-shaped cells (bacilli). The species occurs naturally in the soil but also flourishs in badly preserved foods. Botulism is caused by ingesting the powerful neurotoxin produced by the bacteria, which poisons the central nervous system and can cause fatal heart or lung failure. The toxin is destroyed by cooking although the bacteria itself can survive the heat in the form of spores.
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