Cell surface physiology and outer cell envelope impermeability for hydrophobic substances inBurkholderia multivorans

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Abstract

Purpose.

The purpose of the present study was to obtain a better understanding of the relationship between cell surface physiology and outer cellular envelope permeability for hydrophobic substances in mucoid and non-mucoid B. multivorans strains, as well as in two capsule-deficient derivatives of a mucoid parental strain.

Methodology.

Cell surface hydrophobicity properties were determined using the hydrocarbon adherence method, while outer cell envelope accessibility and permeability for non-polar compounds were measured using hydrophobic antimicrobial agent susceptibility and fluorescent probe assays. Extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) production was assessed by cultivating strains of disparate origin on yeast extract agar (YEA) containing different sugars, while the resultant colonial and cellular morphological parameters were assessed macro- and microscopically, respectively.

Results/Key findings.

The cell surfaces of all the strains were hydrophilic, impermeable to mechanistically disparate hydrophobic antibacterial agents and inaccessible to the hydrophobic probe N-phenyl-1-napthylamine, regardless of EPS phenotype. Supplementation of basal YEA with eight different sugars enhanced macroscopic EPS expression for all but one non-mucoid strain, with mannose potentiating the greatest effect. Despite acquisition of the mucoid phenotype, non-mucoid strains remained non-capsulated and capsulation of a hyper-mucoid strain and its two non-mucoid derivative strains was unaffected, as judged by microscopic observation.

Conclusion.

These data support the conclusion that EPS expression and the consistent mucoid phenotype are not necessarily associated with the ability of the outer cell surface to associate with non-polar substances or cellular capsulation.

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