Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The ability of Flexibacter BH3 to adhere to solid surfaces and to overcome the horizontal drag involved in gliding across the surfaces was considered in terms of the Stefan adhesion principle. The extracellular slime produced by Flexibacter BH3 was suitable as a Stefan adhesive because it exhibited viscous properties characteristic of a linear colloid, increasing the adhesiveness of the bacterium but allowing translational motion across the surface. The water-soluble slime was a glycoprotein, containing glucose, fucose, galactose and some uronic acid. Vesicles and tubules on the outer surface of Flexibacter BH3 possessed trilaminar membranes, contained 2-keto-3-deoxyoctonate (KDO), and showed identity with phenol-extracted lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in gel-diffusion tests. Sections of Flexibacter BH3 gliding on a gold film overlaying an agar medium reveraled a highly convuluted cell envelope outer membrane, portions of which closely conformed to the microcontours of the gold surface. Possible mechanisms of gliding are discussed in relation to this close association with solid surface features, to the finding that flexibility and spiral motion are not essential for gliding, and to evidence revealing the extrusion of slime in advance of “pathfinder” bacteria.
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