Freeze-etched cells of Bacillus subtilis have been studied with the electron microscope. The outer surface of the plasma membrane, i.e. the side facing the cell wall, is covered with numerous granules and short strands, each measuring approximately 50 A in diameter. These strands are occasionally seen to enter the cell wall. The inner surface of the plasma membrane, i.e. the side facing the cytoplasm, appears to be sparsely dotted with small particles measuring about 50 A. The envelope of mesosomes differs from the plasma membrane. Blunt protrusions arise from its outer surface; the inner surface appears smooth. Stalked particles, as described by other investigators after negative staining with phosphotungstic acid, were not observed on any membrane surface in our material. Preparations were also made of specimens prefixed in osmium tetroxide prior to freeze-etching. Under these conditions the bacterial membranes appeared to be surprisingly well preserved. In contrast to directly frozen, unfixed cells, some osmium tetroxide-fixed preparations showed a differentiation in cytoplasm and nucleoplasm, which made it possible to observe the close association of the mesosome with the latter.

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