SUMMARY: Addition of formalin (40% formaldehyde) to a concentration of 5–10% (v/v) to a bacterial culture before flagellar staining may change the shape of the flagella as seen in the stained preparation. With many bacteria, if not a majority, the formalin has no effect on the flagellar shape. The coiled, the straight, the small-amplitude and the typical undulant flagellar shapes evidently are mainly due to formalin fixation. The effect of formalin on flagellar shape may have taxonomic significance and should be recorded. Formalin fixation is advantageous in flagellar staining in that it kills the bacteria and makes for nicer preparations, especially when the bacteria are capsulated.


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