SUMMARY: Bacteria capable of synthesizing polysaccharides are present in various agricultural, moorland and forest soils, and may form from 5-16% of the viable bacterial population, as estimated by the plate-dilution counting technique. Chemical examination of the polysaccharides synthesized distinguished four types: levans, glucose-uronic acids, glucose-mannose-uronic acids and glucose-mannose-rhamnose-uronic acids. Bacteria synthesizing these polysaccharides are well distributed in the soils studied, those forming the first two types being by far the most common. There is no clear relationship between morphology of the organisms and type of polysaccharide synthesized.


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