Acetobacter xylinum is a gram negative bacterium and is
unique in its prolific synthesis of cellulose. Rows of pores characteristically
secrete mini-crystals of glucan chains which then coalesce into
microfibrils. Clusters of microfibrils result in a compound structure
known as the ribbon. The ribbon can be observed directly using
light microscopy, and the time lapse studies show Acetobacter
cells generating cellulose. Acetobacter is the model system
for study of the enzymes and genes involved in cellulose biosynthesis.
The organism also promises to be an important future source for
cellulose in the textile, paper, and lumber industries, provided
its fermentation can be effectively scaled up.
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