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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2003 Feb 14;219(1):33-8.

Envelope ultrastructure of uncultured naturally occurring magnetotactic cocci.

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  • 1Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, CCS, Bloco I, 21941-590, RJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Magnetotactic bacteria are microorganisms that respond to magnetic fields. We studied the surface ultrastructure of uncultured magnetotactic cocci collected from a marine environment by transmission electron microscopy using freeze-fracture and freeze-etching. All bacteria revealed a Gram-negative cell wall. Many bacteria possessed extensive capsular material and a S-layer formed by particles arranged with hexagonal symmetry. No indication of a metal precipitation on the surface of these microorganisms was observed. Numerous membrane vesicles were observed on the surface of the bacteria. Flagella were organized in bundles originated in a depression on the surface of the cells. Occasionally, a close association of the flagella with the magnetosomes that remained attached to the replica was observed. Capsules and S-layers are common structures in magnetotactic cocci from natural sediments and may be involved in inhibition of metal precipitation on the cell surface or indirectly influence magnetotaxis.

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