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Slime layer

A slime layer in bacteria is an easily removable (e.g. by centrifugation), unorganized layer of extracellular material that surrounds bacteria cells. Specifically, this consists mostly of exopolysaccharides, glycoproteins, and glycolipids.[1]

The slime layer is not to be confused with the S-layer, a separate and highly organised glycoprotein layer surrounding many bacterial cells.

The function of the slime layer is to protect the bacteria cells from environmental dangers such as antibiotics and desiccation.[1] The slime layer also allows bacteria to adhere to smooth surfaces such as prosthetic medical devices and catheters.[2] It may permit bacterial colonies to survive chemical sterilization with chlorine, iodine, and other chemicals, leaving autoclaving or flushing with boiling water as the only certain methods of decontaminating.

A bacterial capsule is similar, but is an organized structure that does not wash off as easily as slime layers.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bacterial Glycocalyx - Capsule & Slime Layer". Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  2. ^ a b "The Microbial World :: A look at all things small". Retrieved 2016-02-04.