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Colonial aggregates of Methanosarcina (= Methanococcus) mazei were examined with scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Cells are irregular and grouped into multicellular sarcinal colonies, which may disaggregate in older cultures. The protoplast is bounded by a typical trilaminar plasma membrane, outside of which is a matrix of loose fibrils. The presence and compactness of matrix material are responsible for the close packing of cells, and colony disaggregation seems to be the result of matrix shedding and degradation. The cell envelope contains complex hetero polysaccharides of N-acetylgalactosamine and galacturonic and glucuronic acids. Polymers extruded by M. mazei are likely quite adhesive in nature, accounting for its strong adherence to surfaces and hardiness compared with many other methanogens.