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Microbiology. 1999 May;145 ( Pt 5):1145-52.

Involvement of outer-membrane proteins in the aggregation of Azospirillum brasilense.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and The Otto Warburg Center for Agricultural Biotechnology, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel.


A bioassay was developed to investigate biological factors involved in the aggregation of Azospirillum brasilense strain Cd. Cells were grown for 24 h under aggregation-inducing and non-aggregation-inducing conditions (high and low C:N, respectively) and sonicated for 20 s. The cells were washed by centrifugation and resuspended in potassium phosphate buffer containing the two types of sonication extract. A greater extent of aggregation and higher flocculation were observed after 2-3 h incubation in the presence of sonicates from cells grown at high C:N (H-cells) compared to cells grown at low C:N. Flocculation did not occur after incubation of these cells in phosphate buffer. Boiled or proteinase K-treated sonicates originating from H-cells had lower aggregation-inducing capacity. After fractionation of the crude sonicate, both the outer-membrane protein (OMP) and the total membrane (mostly OMP) fractions possessed relatively high aggregation specific activities. The aggregation-inducing capacity of the OMP fraction strongly correlated with its protein concentration in the bioassay. Treatment of this fraction with proteinase K also decreased its aggregation-inducing activity. These findings suggest that OMPs are involved in the aggregation process of cells of A. brasilense.

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