Drag-reducing properties of bacteria from the skin mucus of the cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii)

G. Bernadsky*, E. Rosenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scanning electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy after scanning with DAPI indicated that the skin mucus of the cornetfish contained large numbers of bacteria, 4 × 108 per cm3. However, viable counts yielded only 2 × 104 per cm3. Twelve bacterial strains were isolated directly from the mucus and another ten strains were obtained following enrichment on pasteurized mucus medium. Most of the isolates belonged to the genus Pseudomonas; a smaller number were classified as Micrococcaceae. Cultures of 13 of the isolates were active in reducing friction in a turbulent flow rheometer. The surface active and drag-reducing properties of three strains-JR5, JR8, and GB7-were studied further. The drag-reducing activities, which were extracellular, were concentrated by ultra-filtration. The chemical composition of the concentrated preparations consisted of 14-24% protein and 38-75% polysaccharide. The major components of the polysaccharide fraction were galacturonic acid, galactosamine, and glucosamine, with lesser amounts of glucose and galactose. The most active preparation, from strain JR8, had a specific drag-reducing activity of 77 units per mg. Strain JR5 was the most hydrophobic as measured by the DOS and BATH tests. JR8 gave intermediate values, and GB8 showed low hydrophobicity values in both tests. The hydrocarbon-in-water emulsifying ability of the concentrated polymer fractions from JR8, GB7, and JR5 were high, intermediate, and low, respectively. The emulsifying and drag-reducing activities of the polymer fraction from strain JR8 were separated from each other by extraction with hydrocarbons. The emulsifying activity was due to a carbohydrate-protein complex, whereas the drag-reducing activity was associated with a uronic acid-containing polysaccharide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1992


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