The marine pseudomonad D71 (NCMB 2018) [‘’] can be induced to produce long tubular surface appendages (spinae) in a growth medium of low osmolarity. In general, spina-carrying cells show these appendages with open distal ends. We examined cultured cells by scanning and transmission electron microscopy, using both critical-point drying and thin sectioning after embedding with agarose protection. By scanning electron microscopy, spinae were observed that connected cells over distances of several micrometers. Ultrathin sections often revealed an additional layer outside the outer membrane, resembling an S-layer. The inner and outer cell membranes were often joined at spina-insertion areas. Furthermore, evidence was found in ultrathin sections for uninterrupted tubes connecting two cells over a distance of up to 7 μm. We propose, therefore, that spinae form the framework for wide open cell clusters; we hypothesize that these spinae might also permit an exchange of cell-to-cell signals.


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