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Cell surface hydrophobicity and the orientation of certain bacteria at interfaces

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Summary

Individual cells of Flexibacter aurantiacus CW7 and Hyphomicrobium vulgare ZV580 orientate themselves perpendicularly to the interface in air-water, oil-water and solid-water systems. Electrostatic phenomena probably are not involved in this orientation, since no evidence was found of any localized distribution of positively-charged ionogenic groups on the bacterial surface. It is suggested that the orientation results from a relatively hydrophobic portion of each cell being rejected from the aqueous phase of the system. This property also may be related to the formation of rosettes by these bacteria. Electron micrographs of thin sections of cells sorbed to araldite blocks show that the cell proper is not in contact with the solid surface, but is anchored to it by extracellular adhesive material. The extracellular materials may be of a polysaccharide nature.

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Marshall, K.C., Cruickshank, R.H. Cell surface hydrophobicity and the orientation of certain bacteria at interfaces. Archiv. Mikrobiol. 91, 29–40 (1973). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00409536

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