Discovery Channel posts gallery of biowarfare agents

The Discovery Channel recently posted an online photography exhibit featuring highly magnified images of biological weapons agents.

The gallery, entitled "All's Fair in Love and Germ Warfare," is located on the Discovery Channel's website. In addition to microscopic photographs, it includes images of the effects of biowarfare agents on the human body, black and white images related to the development of biological weapons and a series of photographs of animal vectors.

The colorful and often beautiful pictures of some of the world's deadliest pathogens are accompanied by captions describing their role in the history of biological warfare.

The Bacillus anthrax bacterium is described as the Abrams tank of germ warfare and an infinitesimal assassin. The gallery includes a photograph of the bacteria taken through scanning electron microscopy as well as a lab-grown culture sample. One of the more disturbing images in the collection shows a lesion caused by cutaneous anthrax infection caught by a women working in a wool factory.

A series of photographs of Salmonella typhimurium shows an individual bacterium, followed by a culture of several, followed by a culture of several hundred.

The only individual portrait in the gallery is of Dr. Ida A Bengston. She is shown working with her microscope at the American Public Health Service's Laboratory of Hygiene, which was founded in 1887 to study the nature of infectious diseases. Bengston, who died in 1952, played a critical role in the initial study of botulinum toxins.