Summary: Monoclonal antibodies (McAb) that react with components of the bacteroid cell wall were isolated after immunization of rats with sonicated bacteroids from pea root nodules. More than 90% of the McAb reacted with lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from bacteroids and all of these cross-reacted with LPS from free-living cultures of the corresponding strains. Although LPS derived from free-living cultures of is very heterogeneous, detected as a ladder of immuno-staining bands after SDS–PAGE and electroblotting, the LPS from bacteroids is predominantly of the fast-migrating form. This observation suggests that LPS from bacteroids carries the core polysaccharide but lacks the repeating O-antigen oligosaccharide substituents that are usually found in free-living cultures. Three classes of McAb differed in their specificity for different strains, and differences in antigenicity were also observed between bacteroid and free-living cultures of the same strain.


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