SUMMARY: A sheath fraction was isolated from cells of the cyanobacterium PCC 6912. It had a fibrillar fine structure, a high density and contained 38% (w/w) carbohydrates and 22% (w/w) protein. Glucose, mannose, galactose, arabinose, xylose, an unknown sugar and glucuronic acid were the major carbohydrates. Lipids were almost entirely absent. The protein was not solubilized by treatment with hot phenol/water (68 °C; 20 min) or Triton X-100 (2%, w/v; 20 °C; 3 h). The carbohydrates of the sheath belong to two different polysaccharides. The major one was not separated from the protein moiety of the sheath by hot phenol/water. It contained glucose as the main constituent, arabinose and xylose but little galactose, in addition to the other carbohydrates. In contrast, the minor polysaccharide was soluble in the water phase of hot phenol/water extracts and contained galactose as a major constituent in addition to glucose and mannose, but very little arabinose and xylose. The polysaccharide enriched in galactose could also be obtained from the water phase by precipitation with Cetavlon when sheath-containing whole cells were extracted by phenol/water.


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