RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Archaebacterial cell wall, artwork. The cell wall is sectioned and seen as horizontal layers. One of these may be the S-layer (green spheres), a tough protein lattice anchored in the layer beneath. The cell membrane (pink and yellow) is the final layer above the cell interior (blue). The tough exterior S-layer allows archaebacteria like extremophiles to live in hot environments, such as near volcanic vents. Archaebacteria are unicellular microscopic organisms that may have been the earliest form of life. This is a Gram-positive cell wall. The green layer retains the Gram stain that helps identify microbes. For a Gram-negative archaebacterial cell wall, see image G460/100.
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