The cell wall compositions of two strains of “true” nocardiae, Nocardia asteroides R 399 and N. caviae IM 1381, and two strains of “so-called nocardiae,” N. piracicabensis and N. mediterranei, were determined. Two different methods were used for preparing the cell walls. In the one, the bacteria were sonically treated, and the cell walls were obtained by differential centrifugation; in the other, the bacteria were delipidated before sonic treatment. The cell walls of true nocardiae contain nocardic acids, identified by comparison with nocardic acids isolated from the whole cell. The peptidoglycan structures of the “true” and “so-called” nocardiae studied showedsome important differences. In the true nocardiae, the glycan strand is constituted of bT-N-acetylglucosaminyl (1 > 4) N-glycolylmuramic acid, and muramic acid is N-acetylated in the strains of “so-called nocardiae,” as it is in the majority of bacteria. In addition, the peptide monomers of true nocardiae are diamidated on both the α-carboxyl group of -glutamic acid and the () carboxyl group of meso-diaminopimelic acid, whereas the peptide monomers of the “so-called nocardiae” have only one amide substituent on the carboxyl group of meso-diaminopimelic acid. It is difficult to differentiate without ambiguity members of the genus Nocardia from the mass of the other actinomycetes which contain major amounts of meso-diaminopimelic acid. Our results suggest that true nocardiae may be those actinomycetes whose cell walls contain, in addition to arabinose and galactose, N-glycolylmuramic acid in the glycan part of the peptidoglycan and diamidated peptides in the peptide part of the peptidoglycan. In addition, truenocardiae contain nocardic acids.


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