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Imaging the surface of Staphylococcus aureus by atomic force microscopy

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The surfaces of four strains of Staphylococcus aureus, which differed in their expression of capsular polysaccharides, were examined using atomic force microscopy. The images show that it is possible to get information about surface characteristics of S. aureus using atomic force microscopy (AFM) following simple preparation. Strains Smith Diffuse (serotype 2), Reynolds (serotype 5), Wood-46 (capsule negative) and JL243 (capsule negative) were grown on medium known to promote the expression of capsular polysaccharides. The bacteria were air-dried prior to being imaged using tapping-mode AFM. Differences in the appearance of the bacterial surfaces were evident between the strains. The two capsule-negative strains exhibited a smooth regular surface, as opposed to the mucoid appearance of the two strains having polysaccharide capsules. Moreover, comparison of images of the heavily encapsulated serotype 2 strain and the serotype 5 strain indicates that a type 2 capsule can be distinguished from a type 5 microcapsule.
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Keywords: AFM; S. aureus; capsule; surface image

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: National Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway 2: University of Cambridge, Department of Pharmacology, United Kingdom 3: The Edward Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research, Compton, United Kingdom

Publication date: 2001-08-01

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