, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 227-235

Nucleoids and coated vesicles of “Epulopiscium” spp.

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Abstract

We describe here aspects of the anatomy of two “Epulopiscium” morphotypes, unusually large bacteria that are not yet cultured and that reproduce by the internal generation of two or more vegetative daughter cells. Two morphotypes, A and B, which are enteric symbionts of several species of herbivorous surgeonfish (Acanthuridae), were collected around the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, preserved there, and later stained for light microscopy. Some samples were examined by electron microscopy. In both morphotypes, countless discrete nucleoplasms or nucleoids were found to occupy a single shallow layer just beneath the surface all around these organisms. At each end of the morphotype B cells, a membrane-bound compartment containing dense cords of chromatin was observed. When these were found at each end of growing daughter cells, no polar compartments were then found in their mother organism. Electron micrographs of sections of morphotype A symbionts show that their outermost region is composed of tightly packed coated vesicles, each surrounded by a thin, dense, spacious capsule. Near the surface of type A organisms the remains of broken vesicles, broken capsules, and a finely fibrous matrix fuse to form a fabric that serves as the cell wall. Morphotype B organisms, however, were observed to have a distinct, morphologically continuous outer wall.

Received: 3 December 1997 / Accepted: 11 June 1998