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J Bacteriol. 1989 Jun;171(6):3504-10.

Calcofluor- and lectin-binding exocellular polysaccharides of Azospirillum brasilense and Azospirillum lipoferum.

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Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers University, New Brunswick 08903.


Extracellular polysaccharides synthesized by Azospirillum brasilense and A. lipoferum were shown on agar plates and liquid flocculating cultures. The six strains used in this work expressed a mucoid phenotype, yielding positive calcofluor fluorescence under UV light. The calcofluor-binding polysaccharides were distributed between the capsular and exopolysaccharide fractions, suggesting exocellular localization. No calcofluor fluorescence was observed in residual cells after separation of the capsular and exopolysaccharide fractions. Cellulose content was significantly higher in flocculating than in nonflocculating cultures. Failure to induce flocculation by addition of cellulose (100 mg/ml) to nonflocculating cultures, together with the sensitivity of flocs to cellulase digestion, suggested that cellulose is involved in maintenance of floc stability. Different A. brasilense and A. lipoferum strains bound to a wheat lectin (fluorescein isothiocyanate-wheat germ agglutinin), indicating the occurrence of specific sugar-bearing receptors for wheat germ agglutinin on the cell surface. The biochemical specificity of the reaction was shown by hapten inhibition with N-acetyl-D-glucosamine. All six strains failed to recognize fluorescein isothiocyanate-soybean seed lectin under our experimental conditions. We conclude that azospirilla produce exocellular polysaccharides with calcofluor- and lectin-binding properties.

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