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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1992 Dec 1;78(2-3):261-4.

Reversible expression of flagella in Campylobacter spp.

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Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ankara University, Turkey.


The in vitro phase variation of flagella and the transition rates between flagellate and aflagellate phenotypes in Campylobacter species including C. jejuni, C. coli, C. lari (thermophilic campylobacters), C. fetus subsp. fetus, C. fetus subsp. venerealis and C. hyointestinalis were investigated. The change from the flagellate to aflagellate phenotype was detected in all of the 12 Campylobacter strains studied. When measured in a motility medium, flagellate to aflagellate transition in thermophilic campylobacters, C. fetus and C. hyointestinalis strains occurred at a rate of 1.8 x 10(-3) to 7.5 x 10(-3), 3.0 x 10(-4) to 7.8 x 10(-4) and 1.8 x 10(-5) to 7.7 x 10(-6) per cell per generation, respectively. Transition from aflagellate to flagellate phenotype occurred at a rate of 5.8 x 10(-6) to 9.3 x 10(-6) per cell per generation in thermophilic campylobacters and 1.0 x 10(-6) to 1.5 x 10(-6) in C. fetus strains. No reversion from aflagellate to flagellate phenotype could be detected in C. hyointestinalis strains. It was concluded that the ability to reversibly express flagella was inherent in the wild-type strains and the transition rates for both directions were consistent for each strain.

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