Flagella and pili are both necessary for efficient attachment of Methanococcus maripaludis to surfaces


  • Editor: Robert Gunsalus

Correspondence: James P.J. Chong, Department of Biology, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK. Tel.: +44 1904 328 628; fax: +44 1904 328 505; e-mail: james.chong@york.ac.uk


Methanococcus maripaludis has two surface appendages, namely flagella and pili. Flagella have been shown to be required for swimming, but no specific role has been assigned as yet to pili. In this report, wild-type M. maripaludis cells are compared with mutants lacking either pili or flagella or both surface appendages in their ability to attach to a variety of surfaces including nickel, gold and molybdenum grids as well as glass, silicon and mica. Wild-type cells attached to varying degrees to all surfaces tested, except mica, via their flagella as observed by scanning electron microscopy. Large cables of flagella were found to leave the cell and to be unwound on the surface. In addition, such cables were often found to connect cells. In contrast, cells lacking either flagella or pili or both surface appendages were unable to attach efficiently to any surfaces. This indicates a second role for flagella in addition to swimming in M. maripaludis, as well as a first role for pili in this organism, namely in surface attachment.