To gain an understanding of the role of fimbriae and flagella in the adherence and colonisation of serotype Enteritidis in chickens, an in-vitro gut adherence assay was developed and used to assess the adherence of a wild-type Enteritidis strain and isogenic non-fimbriate and non-flagellate mutant strains. Enteritidis strain S1400/94, a clinical isolate virulent in chickens, was shown to possess genes which encoded type 1, SEF14, SEF17, plasmid-encoded and long polar fimbriae. Mutant strains unable to elaborate these fimbriae were created by allelic exchange. Each fimbrial operon was inactivated by the insertion of an antibiotic resistance gene cassette. In addition, and loci, which encode the major subunit of the flagellum, the energy-translation system for motility and one of the chemotaxis signalling proteins, respectively, were similarly inactivated. Non-flagellate mutant strains were significantly less adherent than the wild-type strain, whereas mutant strains defective for the elaboration of any of the types of fimbriae adhered as well as the wild-type strain. A flagellate but non-motile (paralysed) mutant strain and a smooth-swimming chemotaxis-deficient mutant strain were shown to be less adherent than the wild-type strain, but that observation depended on the assay conditions used.


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