Twenty-eight non-spreading mutants of the gliding bacterium were generated by different approaches and subsequently studied to determine whether they possessed traits commonly assumed to be associated with such mutants. Many non-spreading variants of purportedly possess a static cell surface as opposed to the dynamic one of the motile parent strain. A moving cell surface has been supposed to be responsible for an array of traits associated with motile cells, but missing in non-motile cells. Phage sensitivity, chitin digestion and the ability of cells to move latex beads over their surfaces are some of the alleged motility-dependent traits. Also, it has been reported that non-spreading mutants possess a cell surface that is less hydrophobic than that of the parent strain. We characterized our collection of mutants in relation to the above mentioned traits to determine whether these characteristics indeed required a moving cell surface. Our findings showed that neither phage sensitivity nor chitin digestion were motility-dependent. In addition we noted that non-spreading mutants could possess surfaces more (rather than less) hydrophobic than the motile parent strain.


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