The cells of Asticcacaulis are rod-shaped and 0.5-0.7x1-3 microns in size. A typical cell has an appendage about 0.15 microns in diameter, the length of which varies depending on the isolate and environmental conditions, that extends off-center at one end or laterally along the cell. In the latter case, each cell can have two appendages. Although structurally similar to the stalk of Caulobacter, these appendages are called pseudostalks due to their lack of cohesive substances and attachment function. Each cell characteristically has a small clump of sticky mass at its subpolar location. The cells of Asticcacaulis are solitary. In dense populations, cells can stick to each other in a rosette shape, with the extremes of the cells connected by a common sticky substance. Cell division is a lateral, disparate, asymmetric binary division of cells with pseudostalks. During division, one cell is longer and has one or two pseudostalks, and the shorter sibling cell has a subpolar monoflagellate. Afterwards, the flagellated cells develop a pseudostalk and enter an immotile vegetative phase.
Asticcacaulis is Gram-negative. The cell wall consists of an outer component that is similar in thickness and organization to the cell membrane and an inner component that varies in thickness in each isolate. This internal component is soluble in lysozyme EDTA. Colonies are round, protruding, shiny, and colorless. Asticcacaulis are organic chemotrophs and adhere to strict respiratory metabolism. The main carbon intermediate metabolic pathway is the Entner-Doudoroff pathway. Carbon is stored in the form of poly-beta hydroxybutyric acid.
Asticcacaulis are strictly aerobic bacteria. The growth temperature range is 15-35°C; the optimum growth temperature is 25-30°C. The optimum pH for growth is near neutral; the pH range is 6.0-9.0.
All isolates grow characteristically well under low osmotic pressure and can reproduce in distilled water. In media containing 1% (w/v) or more of organic matter, growth was inhibited or cells became swollen and lysed. Isolates have not been obtained from marine sources.
Streptomycin (0.1 mg/ml) and penicillin G (1000 units/ml) inhibited growth. Observations of these bacteria in natural objects have not been reported. It is speculated that their distribution is similar to that of Caulobacter, since all known isolates of Asticcacaulis were obtained inadvertently in an attempt to isolate Caulobacter.
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Figure 1. Asticcacaulis excentricus. (Jiang C, et al.; 2014)
Each cell of Asticcacaulis excentricus has a single, subpolar appendage. It has a flagella during motility and a pseudostalk during immobility. Biotin is the only organic growth factor required.
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