Calcofluor white ST Alters the in vivo assembly of cellulose microfibrils

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Science  21 Nov 1980:
Vol. 210, Issue 4472, pp. 903-906
DOI: 10.1126/science.7434003


The fluorescent brightener, Calcofluor White ST, prevents the in vivo assembly of crystalline cellulose microfibrils and ribbons by Acetobacter xylinum. In the presence of more than 0.01 percent Calcofluor, Acetobacter continues to synthesize high-molecular-weight beta-1,4 glucans. X-ray crystallography shows that the altered product exhibits no detectable crystallinity in the wet state, but upon drying it changes into crystalline cellulose I. Calcofluor alters cellulose crystallization by hydrogen bonding with glucan chains. Synthesis of this altered product is reversible and can be monitored with fluorescence and electron microscopy. Use of Calcofluor has made it possible to separate the processes of polymerization and crystallization leading to the biogenesis of cellulose microfibrils, and has suggested that crystallization occurs by a cell-directed. self-assembly process in Acetobacter xylinum.

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