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Bacteria-shaped Gymnoplasts (Protoplasts) of Bacillus subtilis

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  • Taxonomy
  • Ecology
  • And Morphology And Structure
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Addition of glucose to the medium in which Bacillus subtilis was grown lowered the pH and increased the amount of lysylphosphatidylglycerol relative to the phosphatidylglycerol content of the membrane fraction. This change in phospholipid composition was accompanied by changes in the shape and behavior of the gymnoplasts obtained by cell wall removal with lysozyme. These gymnoplasts appeared to retain most of their original cell shape and internal organization, often with preservation of the mesosomes. Cells harvested from neutral growth medium gave the usual spherical gymnoplasts. In a hypotonic medium, the spherical gymnoplasts lysed rapidly, whereas the rod-like gymnoplasts lost only part of their cell content while showing a tendency to preserve the original shape. This type of gymnoplast could not be produced from cells grown in neutral medium by simply raising the magnesium concentration. When this was done the gymnoplasts assumed bizarre shapes; they became compact and susceptible to the tonicity of the medium. Gymnoplasts or protoplasts, produced from bacilli exposed to low pH values, were found not to conform to the formulations on “protoplasts” given in 1958 by 13 authors. Cells exposed to a low environmental pH during growth seemed to possess a more rigid membrane structure than cells grown at neutral pH.

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