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Int J Biol Macromol. 1994 Dec;16(6):290-6.

Visualization of capsule formation by Erwinia amylovora and assays to determine amylovoran synthesis.

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Max-Planck-Institut für medizinische Forschung, Heidelberg, Germany.


Exopolysaccharide (EPS) synthesis by Erwinia amylovora depends on environmental and genetic predispositions. To measure the amount of the acidic EPS amylovoran synthesized by E. amylovora cell cultures, a turbidity assay using cetylpyridinium salt was developed. The EPS produced by bacteria grown on solid media was additionally characterized by its water content. The amylovoran capsules were visualized in situ by staining with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labelled lectin from Abrus precatorius, which reacts with the galactose residue of the EPS side chain. The staining and the turbidity assays were applied to suspension cell cultures or to cells from colonies and did not require any purification steps. Lectin staining was superior to electron microscopic (EM) techniques for visualization of capsules. For EM, the capsule was stabilized with polycationic ferritin. In contrast to lectin staining, only a small fraction of the cells was found to be EPS-coated in the EM assay. An increase in capsulation and in amylovoran production was found in conjunction with mutations in a ribosomal protein conferring resistance to streptomycin. Furthermore, the presence of sorbitol in the growth environment resulted in high synthesis of amylovoran. Cells in the stationary growth phase continued to produce amylovoran. Apparently, the strong dependence of the fireblight pathogen on capsules requires the capacity for EPS synthesis in all growth stages in order to escape plant defence reactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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