SUMMARY: Capsular development and soybean lectin binding properties of 3I1B110 were examined by the glutaraldehyde/ruthenium red/uranyl acetate method permitting observation of whole bacteria and their polar capsules by transmission electron microscopy. Ultrastructurally, the polar capsule consisted of (i) an electron-dense aggregated material in close contact with the cell surface which stained with ruthenium red and intensively bound soybean lectin, and (ii) a less electron-dense fibrillar material at the periphery of the capsule which stained with ruthenium red but did not bind soybean lectin. The latter material interconnected with the aggregated capsular material at the cell surface. As the culture advanced into stationary phase, these acidic capsular materials were shed into the culture medium where they kept their respective lectin-binding activity. The cells correspondingly decreased in their lectin-binding activity and encapsulation with culture age. However, the remaining encapsulated cells in late stationary phase were still able to bind the lectin in a hapten-specific way.


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