From the text:
Geisbert checked all the flasks, and most of them looked the same way, like moth-eaten carpet. They looked real bad, they looked sick. Something was killing these cells. They were swollen and puffy, fat looking, as if they were pregnant. Tom could see that they contained granules or specks. The specks looked like pepper. As if someone had shaken pepper over fried eggs. He may have seen reflections of light in the pepper, as if light was gleaming through crystals. Crystals? These cells were unrecognizably sick. And they were very sick, because the fluid was milky and clouded with dead cells, cells that had exploded.