WEB TEXT: The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly

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Science  04 Jun 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5676, pp. 1421
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5676.1421b

The pearly droplets in this photo are colonies of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. The bugs exude a goopy coating that repels immune system assaults and allows them to establish a foothold in the body. Learn more about the tricks bacteria use to prosper almost everywhere on Earth in this Web text from microbiologist Kenneth Todar of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. High school and college students can absorb the basics of bacterial structure, physiology, classification, and ecology. The book emphasizes medical microbiology, exploring how bacteria hitch a ride from host to host, how the body tries to corral invading microbes, and how the bugs elude these defenses. For example, the cholera bacterium releases a toxin that induces intestinal cells to spill ions and water, producing potentially lethal diarrhea.


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