The hydrophobicity—hydrophilicity of various strains of has been studied by a technique involving partitioning of the cells between aqueous and hydrocarbon phases. was typically hydrophobic, and to a greater degree in stationary- than in exponential-phase cultures. Mutants that lacked teichoic acid, protein A or coagulase production were hydrophobic, indicating that none of these factors was responsible for hydrophobicity. The presence of a capsule rendered strains hydrophilic. Thus, determination of hydrophobicity may be a useful additional test for capsulation. However, a non-capsulate strain was hydrophilic. Trypsin treatment converted strains from hydrophobic to hydrophilic. Isolated bacterial cell wall preparation, either crude or purified, and peptidoglycan were hydrophilic. These results indicate that the determinant of hydrophobicity is a protein or protein-associated molecule localised at the cell surface of the organism, i.e., a component of either the cell wall, cell membrane, or both. Twenty-five strains of twelve coagulase-negative species were examined and most (18) were hydrophobic, again indicating that protein A is not a major determinant of hydrophobicity in these staphylococci. Four of seven hydrophilic strains were capsulate; three strains of were hydrophilic but non-capsulate.


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