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Mol Microbiol. 1993 Nov;10(4):849-58.

Branched Escherichia coli cells.

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Department of Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden.


We report that the normally rod-shaped bacterium Escherichia coli can form branched cells. These were found in strains in which chromosome replication or nucleoid segregation was disturbed, e.g. in minB mutants, intR1 strains, and in strains exhibiting stable DNA replication. Often chromosome DNA was found to be located in the branch point of the cells. The branching frequency was dependent upon the growth medium: in rich medium no branched cells were found, whereas in minimal medium containing acetate and casamino acids the frequency of branched cells was increased. The genetic background of the strains also affected the tendency to branch. Furthermore, electron microscopy of thin-sectioned branched cells revealed additional membrane-like structures, which were not observed in wild-type cells. Finally, the branched cells are compared with bacteria that normally branch, and probable causes for branching in E. coli are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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