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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2014 Apr;18:54-60. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Mar 12.

To divide or not to divide: control of the bacterial cell cycle by environmental cues.

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LOEWE Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO), Philipps University Marburg, 35043 Marburg, Germany. Electronic address:


Whether to divide or not is an important decision that nearly all cells have to make, especially bacteria that are exposed to drastic environmental changes. Under adverse conditions proliferation and growth could compromise cellular integrity and hence must be downregulated. To this end, bacteria have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to transduce environmental information into the cell cycle engine. Recent studies in Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and Caulobacter crescentus indicate that these mechanisms often involve small molecule-based signaling, regulated proteolysis, as well as protein-protein interactions. Most of them delay replication initiation or septum formation by targeting the key regulators DnaA or FtsZ, respectively. Remarkably, while the targets are conserved, the precise mechanisms show a considerable degree of diversity among different species.

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