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Can J Microbiol. 1988 Apr;34(4):415-20.

Bacterial extracellular polysaccharides.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, College of Biological Sciences, University of Guelph, Ont., Canada.


The synthesis of extracellular polysaccharides has been recognized in certain bacterial cultures since the 1880s. It is now apparent that a wide range of bacteria produce these polymers and an equally wide range of chemical structures are possible. Their surface location, together with the range of available monosaccharide combinations, noncarbohydrate substituents, and linkage types, make extracellular polysaccharides excellent agents of diversity. As a result, much effort has been directed towards elucidating their structure in pathogenic bacteria and in enteric organisms in particular. Commercial applications of microbial polysaccharides have now broadened the scope of structural information. Most recently, technological advances in molecular biology have created the possibility of manipulating desired polymer characteristics, and with these advances, our knowledge of the mechanisms of synthesis and regulation of cell surface polysaccharides has improved. Ultimately more information regarding the function of extracellular polysaccharides in natural environments may result.

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