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E. coli. Coloured transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of two Escherichia coli bacteria. E. coli are Gram-negative bacilli (rod-shaped) bacteria. Long flagellae (thin thread-like structures) are used by the bacteria to move themselves. The spiky filaments on the sides of the bacteria are pili, thin strands of protein used when two bacteria conjugate (transfer DNA). E. coli is a normal inhabitant of the human intestine. However, under certain conditions its numbers may increase, causing infection. It can cause "traveller's diarrhoea" and urinary tract infections such as cystitis. Magnification: x17,200 at 10 centimetres high.
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