Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract It is generally accepted that during fast growth of Escherichia coli, the time (D) between the end of a round of DNA replication and cell division is constant. This concept is not consistent with the fact that average cell mass of a culture is an exponential function of the growth rate, if it is also accepted that average cell mass per origin of DNA replication (Mi) changes with growth rate and negative exponential cell age distribution is taken into account. Data obtained from cell composition analysis of E. coli OV-2 have shown that not only (Mi) but also D varied with growth rate at generation times (τ) between 54 and 30 min. E. coli OV-2 is a thymine auxotroph in which the replication time (C) can be lengthened, without inducing changes in τ, by growth with limiting amounts of thymine. This property has been used to study the relationship between cell size and division from cell composition measurements during growth with different amounts of thymine. When C increased, average cell mass at the end of a round of DNA replication also increased while D decreased, but only the time lapse (d) between the end of a replication round and cell constriction initiation appeared to be affected because the constriction period remained fairly constant. We propose that the rate at which cells proceed to constriction initiation from the end of replication is regulated by cell mass at this event, big cells having shorter d times than small cells.
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