Pseudomonas aeruginosa carries polar pili which act as receptors for RNA-containing bacteriophages. In order to confirm, that these pili were not involved in the transfer of the sex factor FP 2, eleven bacterial strains, both FP 2+ and FP 2−, were examined in the electron microscope for the presence of pili and tested for sensitivity to the RNA phage PP7. Pili were found on all strains save one which was resistant to phage PP7. It was also found by electron microscopy that about 25 times more pili per cell were present after PP7 adsorption than before it. This result is discussed with reference to the pilus retraction theory, providing further evidence that some kinds of pili retract instead of acting as simple tubes for the transfer of genetic material. The strong supporting evidence provided by the infective processes of male-specific coliphages is discussed and compared to current knowledge of P. aeruginosa RNA phages.
It was also found that pili were present on the host strain for the P. aeruginosa filamentous phage Pf. Although similar in appearance to RNA phage pili, these differed in that they did not adsorb phage PP7. However, it seemed likely that they were receptors for Pf. A structural comparison is made between P. aeruginosa pili and Escherichia coli F-pili. It is possible that P. aeruginosa pili could be coded for by a plasmid other than FP 2.