Dissociation and re-aggregation of multicell-ensheathed fragments responsible for rapid production of massive clumps of Leptothrix sheaths

Tatsuki Kunoh, Noriyuki Nagaoka, Ian R. McFarlane, Katsunori Tamura, Mohamed Y. El-Naggar, Hitoshi Kunoh, Jun Takada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Species of the Fe/Mn-oxidizing bacteria Leptothrix produce tremendous amounts of microtubular, Fe/Mn-encrusted sheaths within a few days in outwells of groundwater that can rapidly clog water systems. To understand this mode of rapid sheath production and define the timescales involved, behaviors of sheath-forming Leptothrix sp. strain OUMS1 were examined using time-lapse video at the initial stage of sheath formation. OUMS1 formed clumps of tangled sheaths. Electron microscopy confirmed the presence of a thin layer of bacterial exopolymer fibrils around catenulate cells (corresponding to the immature sheath). In time-lapse videos, numerous sheath filaments that extended from the periphery of sheath clumps repeatedly fragmented at the apex of the same fragment, the fragments then aggregated and again elongated, eventually forming a large sheath clump comprising tangled sheaths within two days. In this study, we found that fast microscopic fragmentation, dissociation, re-aggregation and re-elongation events are the basis of the rapid, massive production of Leptothrix sheaths typically observed at macroscopic scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016



  • Bacterial sheath apex
  • Leptothrix
  • Massive sheath production
  • Sheath clump
  • Sheath fragmentation
  • Time-lapse microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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