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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Differentiation of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species by lectins.

Bacillus anthracis was agglutinated by several lectins, including those from Griffonia simplicifolia, Glycine max, Abrus precatorius, and Ricinus communis. Some strains of Bacillus cereus var. mycoides (B. mycoides) were strongly reactive with the lectin from Helix pomatia and weakly reactive with the G. max lectin. The differential interactions between Bacillus species and lectins afforded a means of distinguishing B. anthracis from other bacilli. B. cereus strains exhibited heterogeneity with respect to agglutination patterns by lectins but could readily be differentiated from B. anthracis and the related B. mycoides. Spores of B. anthracis and B. mycoides retained lectin receptors, although the heating of spores or vegetative cells at 100 degrees C resulted in a decrease in their ability to be specifically agglutinated. Fluorescein-conjugated lectin of G. max stained vegetative cells of B. anthracis uniformly, suggesting that the distribution of lectin receptors was continuous over the entire cellular surface. B. anthracis cells grown under conditions to promote the production of capsular poly(D-glutamyl peptide) were also readily agglutinated by the lectins, suggesting that the lectin reactive sites penetrate the polypeptide layer. Trypsin, subtilisin, lysozyme, and mutanolysin did not modify the reactivity of B. anthracis with the G. max agglutinin, although the same enzymes markedly diminished the interaction between the lectin and B. mycoides. Because the lectins which interact with B. anthracis are specific for alpha-D-galactose or 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-alpha-D-galactose residues, it is likely that the bacteria possess cell surface polymers which contain these sugars. Lectins may prove useful in the laboratory identification of B. anthracis and possibly other pathogenic Bacillus species, such as B. cereus.[1]


  1. Differentiation of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species by lectins. Cole, H.B., Ezzell, J.W., Keller, K.F., Doyle, R.J. J. Clin. Microbiol. (1984) [Pubmed]
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