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Arch Microbiol. 1997 Aug;168(2):152-9.

Cell elongation and septation are two mutually exclusive processes in Escherichia coli.

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Istituto di Microbiologia, Università di Verona, Strada Le Grazie, I-37134 Verona, Italy.


Bacterial rod morphogenesis was studied in synchronously growing cells of Escherichia coli C600 during the reshaping process that follows the removal of mecillinam, a beta-lactam antibiotic that specifically inhibits lateral wall formation of gram-negative rods and causes transition to coccal shape. Removal of mecillinam after 30 min of action did not affect the timing of subsequent cell division, but removal after 50 min delayed resumption of cell division for approximately one generation time. In order to study the interplay between lateral wall elongation and septum formation in determining and maintaining the bacterial rod shape, we evaluated the effect of re-adding mecillinam or of adding aztreonam (a specific inhibitor of septum formation) at various stages of the reshaping process. We conclude that mecillinam was active only during the reshaping process, while aztreonam was active only later when the cells were close to dividing again. These results provide further evidence for our previous proposal according to which elongation and septation are two alternating and competing events of the cell cycle and are linked to each other to force bacterial rods to grow to a given length.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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