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False colour transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of the gram-positive bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonococcus), which is associated with pneumonia in humans. The bacteria are spherical. They secrete a viscous material to form a capsule around their cell wall. The role of the capsule is uncertain, but is associated with virulence in pathogenic organisms. It gives the bacteria protection against the immune system of an invaded host (animal or human). Capsulated organisms resist phagocytosis (engulfing) by white blood cells. They may survive digestion by scavengers cells, continuing to multiply normally. Magnification: x5,880 at 35mm size.
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