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Escherichia coli endotoxin, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). This is a freeze-dried sample of an endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide complex) associated with the outer membrane of E. coli bacteria. It is released mainly when the bacterium dies and disintegrates (lysis). Endotoxins are less specific in their action than exotoxins, since they do not act enzymatically. Some strains of E. coli can cause serious food poisoning in humans. Magnification: x2000 when printed 10 centimetres wide.
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