Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

An Unidentified Amino-sugar present in Cell Walls and Spores of Various Bacteria


A SUBSTANCE reacting as a hexosamine but which is not glucosamine or galactosamine has been found in 6 N hydrochloric acid hydrolysates of a variety of bacterial cell walls by Cummins and Harris1 and in peptides isolated from spores of Bacillus megatherium, B. subtilis and B. cereus by Strange and Powell2. There is evidence that in all cases the same substance is involved, and recently in this laboratory a similar compound was isolated from acid hydrolysates of cells of Micrococcus lysodeikticus in sufficient quantity for comparison with that from spore peptide, which showed that it was identical in a number of properties. The amino-sugar would therefore seem to be widely distributed in bacteria. The base has now been obtained in crystalline form from acid hydrolysates of spore peptide (Fig. 1) by the use of ion-exchange resins. Investigation of the crystalline compound has shown that it is not a simple hexosamine ; for example, after treatment with ninhydrin according to the method of Stoffyn and Jeanloz3, followed by paper chromatography, a spot was obtained which reacted with aniline phthalate4 and other sugar spray reagents like a pentose but which had an R F value considerably lower than that of arabinose, lyxose, xylose or ribose. This product reduced ammoniacal silver nitrate but did not react with naphtho-resorcinol–trichloracetic acid5.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Cummins, C. S., and Harris, H., Biochem. J., 57, xxxii (1954); J. Gen. Miorobiol., 13, iii (1955).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Strange, R. E., and Powell, J. F., Biochem. J., 58, 80 (1954).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Stoffyn, P. J., and Jeanloz, R. W., Arch. Biochim. Biophys., 52, 373 (1954).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Partridge, S. M., Nature, 164, 443 (1949).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Partridge, S. M., Biochem. J., 42, 238 (1948).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Elson, L. A., and Morgan, W. T. J., Biochem. J., 27, 1824 (1933).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Dische, Z., and Borenfreund, E., J. Biol. Chem., 184, 517 (1950).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Tracey, M. V., Biochem. J., 52, 265 (1952).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Immers, J., and Vasseur, E., Nature, 165, 898 (1950).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

STRANGE, R., DARK, F. An Unidentified Amino-sugar present in Cell Walls and Spores of Various Bacteria. Nature 177, 186–188 (1956).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing