Adherence of Clostridium thermocellum to cellulose

E. A. Bayer, R. Kenig, R. Lamed

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The adherence of Clostridium thermocellum, a cellulolytic, thermophilic anaerobe, to its insoluble substrate (cellulose) was studied. The adherence phenomenon was determined to be selective for cellulose. The observed adherence was not significantly affected by various parameters, including salts, pH, temperature, detergents, or soluble sugars. A spontaneous adherence-defective mutant strain (AD2) was isolated from the wild-type strain YS. Antibodies were prepared against the bacterial cell suface and rendered specific to the cellulose-binding factor (CBF) by adsorption to mutant AD2 cells. By using these CBF-specific antibodies, crossed immunoelectrophoresis of cell extracts revealed a single discrete precipitation peak in the parent strain which was absent in the mutant. This difference was accompanied by an alteration in polypeptide profile whereby sonicates of strain YS contained a 210,000-molecular-weight band which was missing in strain AD2. The CBF antigen could be removed from cell extracts by adsorption to cellulose. A combined gel-overlay-immunoelectrophoretic technique demonstrated that the cellulose-binding properties of the CBF were accompanied by carboxymethylcellulase activity. During the exponential phase of growth, a large part of the CBF antigen and related carboxymethylcellulase activity was associated with the cells of wild-type strain YS. However, the amounts decreased in stationary-phase cells. Cellobiose-grown mutant AD2 cells lacked the cell-associated CBF, but the latter was detected in te extracellular fluid. Increased levels of CBF were observed when cells were grown on cellulose. In addition, mutant AD2 regained cell-associated CBF together with the property of cellulose adherence. The presence of the CBF antigen and related adherence characteristics appeared to be a phenomenon common to other naturally occurring strains of this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-827
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1983


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