ERIC GRAVE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ERIC GRAVE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bacterial capsules. Light micrograph of a group of unidentified bacterial cells encased in light- coloured bacterial capsules. Many bacteria secrete a slimy or gummy material onto their surfaces. This may be called a slime layer, a capsule or glycocalyx (meaning polysaccharide material outside a cell). The capsule may be thin or thick, rigid or flexible. The capsule can help the bacterial cell to attach onto host cells that it is infecting. It may also serve to protect it from immune cells such as phagocytes.
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