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Mol Microbiol. 2007 Apr;64(1):28-33.

Out on a limb: how the Caulobacter stalk can boost the study of bacterial cell shape.

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1
Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Abstract

Understanding the mechanisms underlying the establishment of different bacterial cell shapes and the advantage that a particular shape imparts is one of the most fascinating and challenging areas of study in microbiology. One remarkable example of bacterial morphogenesis is the elaboration of long, tubular extensions of the cell envelope of certain aquatic bacteria. These appendages (also called prosthecae or stalks) possess features that make them particularly amenable models for experiments designed to uncover general principles of cell morphogenesis and of cell shape function. Recent evidence supports the hypothesis that stalk synthesis in Caulobacter crescentus is a specialized form of cell elongation that confers to the cell substantial advantages in nutrient uptake. Further insights into the mechanisms and function of stalk synthesis will require a multidisciplinary systems biology approach using principles and methodologies from ecology and evolutionary biology to biophysics and mathematical modelling.

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