Three strains of examined by negative-staining showed the presence of flexible, peritrichous fimbriae on the cell surface. These structures were up to 0.5 μm long and 4.5 νm in diameter. The numbers of fimbriae per cell varied from a few to hundreds, and not all cells in a culture were fimbriate. Two strains were selected for particular study: strain JH2, which is plasmid free, and strain JH3, which carries a self-transferable plasmid, pJH3. Fimbriation varied with the growth phase and was maximum in late-exponential phase for strain JH2, and early-stationary phase for strain JH3. The maximum percentage of fimbriate cells produced was within the range 75-90% for strain JH2 and 40-53 % for strain JH3.

Both strains showed a decrease in the percentage of fimbriate cells in stationary phase dropping very rapidly in strain JH2 and less rapidly in strain JH3. Fimbriae were present on cells grown under a variety of environmental conditions. No surface structures unique to the plasmid-containing strains were found.


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