The hydrocarbon-degrading strain Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1 produces an extracellular emulsifying agent capable of forming stable oil-in-water emulsions. The bioemulsifier, termed emulsan, is a polyanionic heteropolysaccharide (M.W. 106) composed mainly of N-acyl D-galactosamine and an N-acyl hexosamine uronic acid. In order to probe the interaction of emulsan with the cell surface prior to its release into the growth medium, two new virulent bacteriophages for A. calcoaceticus RAG-1 were isolated from sewage and the properties of phage resistant mutants were studied. The two phages, ap-2 and ap-3, were differentiated on the basis of plaque morphology, electron microscopy and buoyant density. Isolated mutants of A. calcoaceticus RAG-1 which were resistant to one of the two phages retained sensitivity to the other phage. Resistance to phage ap-3 was accompanied by a severe drop in emulsan production. Independently isolated derivatives of A. calcoaceticus RAG-1 with a defect in emulsan production also turned out to be resistant towards phage ap-3. Antibodies prepared against purified emulsan specifically inhibited phage ap-3 adsorption to the cell surface of the parental strain.
- Acinetobacter calcoaceticus
- Cell-bound/cell-free heteropolysaccharide
- Emulsifying agent
- Phage receptor