Cell volume increase in Escherichia coli after shifts to richer media.


Synchronous cultures of Escherichia coli 15-THU and WP2s, which were selected by velocity sedimentation from exponential-phase cultures growing in an acetate-minimal salts medium, were shifted to richer media at various times during the cell cycle by the addition of glucose or nutrient broth. Cell numbers and mean cell volumes were measured electronically. The duration of the division cycle of the shifted generation was not altered significantly by the addition of either nutrient. Growth rates, measured as rates of cell volume increase, were constant throughout the cycle in unshifted acetate control cultures. When glucose was added, growth rates also remained unchanged during the remainder of the cell cycle and then increased abruptly at or after cell division. When nutrient broth was added, growth rates remained unchanged from periods of 0.2 to 0.4 generations and then increased abruptly to their final values. In all cases, the cell volume increase was linear both before and after the growth rate transition. The strongest support for a linear cell volume increase during the cell cycle of E. coli in slowly growing acetate cultures, however, was obtained in unshifted cultures, in complete agreement with earlier observations of cell volumes at much more rapid growth rates. Although cell growth and division are under the control of the synthesizing machinery in the cell responsible for RNA and protein synthesis, the results indicate that growth is also regulated by membrane-associated transport systems.

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