Cell surface hydrophobicity of pigmented and nonpigmented clinical Serratia marcescens strains

Mel Rosenberg, Yael Blumberger, Herbert Judes, Ronit Bar-Ness, Ethan Rubinstein, Yardena Mazor

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The cell surface hydrophobicity of 10 pigmented and 4 nonpigmented clinical Serratia marcescens strains was studied, based on the ability of the strains to adhere to hydrocarbons and to polystyrene. The cell surface hydrophobicity depended greater on growth temperature; all of the strains tested were adherent following growth at 30°C, whereas none was adherent following growth at 38°C. In previous studies, the pigment prodigiosin has been cited as responsible for cell surface hydrophobicity in various Serratia strains. However, the observed ability of the nonpigmented strains to adhere to the test hydrocarbons and to polystyrene indicates that Serratia strains can possess hydrophobic surface properties in the absence of this pigment. Moreover, strain 1785 cells were adherent whether they were grown at 30 or 36.5°C, even though pigment was not synthesized at the higher temperature. In Escherichia coli correlations have been noted between increased cell surface hydrophobicity and the presence of mannose-specific adhesins; no such relationship was found in the S. marcescens strains tested. The expression of cell surface hydrophobicity in clinical S. marcescens strains at 30° C and the loss of hydrophobicity at host temperatures raise the possibility that infective cells from the environment are initially hydrophobic, but lose this property upon subsequent proliferation within a host.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-935
Number of pages4
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986


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