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Bacterial Growth

Bacterial Growth

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A summary on the growth of bacteria and bacterial growth curve.
A summary on the growth of bacteria and bacterial growth curve.

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Published by: Vytheeshwaran Vedagiri on Jul 15, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/03/2013

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BACTERIAL GROWTH
Population growth is studied by analyzing the growth curve of amicrobial culture.
When microorganisms are cultivated in liquid medium, theyusually are grown in a
 batch culture
or closed system— i.e., theyare incubated in a closed culture vessel with a single batch of medium.
Because no fresh medium is provided during incubation, nutrientconcentrations decline and concentrations of wastes increase.
 The growth of microorganisms reproducing by binary fission canbe plotted as the logarithm of the number of viable cells versus theincubation time.
 The resulting curve has four distinct phases:
Lag Phase
When microorganisms are introduced into fresh culture medium,usually no immediate increase in cell number occurs, andtherefore this period is called the
lag phase.
Although cell division does not take place right away and there isno net increase in mass, the cell is synthesizing new components.
A lag phase prior to the start of cell division can be necessary for avariety of reasons.
 The cells may be old and depleted of ATP, essential cofactors, andribosomes; these must be synthesized before growth can begin.
 The medium may be different from the one the microorganism wasgrowing in previously. Here new enzymes would be needed to usedifferent nutrients. Possibly the microorganisms have been injuredand require time to recover.
Whatever the causes, eventually the cells retool, replicate theirDNA, begin to increase in mass, and finally divide.
 The lag phase varies considerably in length with the condition of the microorganisms and the nature of the medium.
 This phase may be quite long if the inoculum is from an oldculture or one that has been refrigerated. Inoculation of a cultureinto a chemically different medium also results in a longer lagphase.
On the other hand, when a young, vigorously growing exponentialphase culture is transferred to fresh medium of the samecomposition, the lag phase will be short or absent.
Exponential Phase
 
During the
exponential
or
log phase,
microorganisms are growingand dividing at the maximal rate possible given their geneticpotential, the nature of the medium, and the conditions under which they are growing.
 Their rate of growth is constant during the exponential phase; thatis, the microorganisms are dividing and doubling in number atregular intervals.
Because each individual divides at a slightly different moment, thegrowth curve rises smoothly rather than in discrete jumps.
 The population is most uniform in terms of chemical andphysiological properties during this phase; therefore exponentialphase cultures are usually used in biochemical and physiologicalstudies.
Exponential growth is
 balanced growth.
 That is, all cellular constituents are manufactured at constantrates relative to each other.
If nutrient levels or other environmental conditions change,
unbalanced growth
results.
 This is growth during which the rates of synthesis of cellcomponents vary relative to one another until a new balanced stateis reached.
 This response is readily observed in a shift-up experiment in whichbacteria are transferred from a nutritionally poor medium to aricher one.
 The cells first construct new ribosomes to enhance their capacityfor protein synthesis.
 This is followed by increases in protein and DNA synthesis.
Finally, the expected rise in reproductive rate takes place.
Unbalanced growth also results when a bacterial population isshifted down from a rich medium to a poor one.
 The organisms may previously have been able to obtain many cellcomponents directly from the medium.
When shifted to a nutritionally inadequate medium, they need timeto make the enzymes required for the biosynthesis of unavailablenutrients.
Consequently cell division and DNA replication continue after theshift-down, but net protein and RNA synthesis slow.
 The cells become smaller and reorganize themselves metabolicallyuntil they are able to grow again.
 Then balanced growth is resumed and the culture enters theexponential phase.
 
 These shift-up and shift-down experiments demonstrate thatmicrobial growth is under precise, coordinated control andresponds quickly to changes in environmental conditions.
When microbial growth is limited by the low concentration of arequired nutrient, the final net growth or yield of cells increases with the initial amount of the limiting nutrient present.
 This is the basis of microbiological assays for vitamins and othergrowth factors.
 The rate of growth also increases with nutrient concentration, butin a hyperbolic manner much like that seen with many enzymes.
 The shape of the curve seems to reflect the rate of nutrient uptakeby microbial transport proteins.
At sufficiently high nutrient levels the transport systems aresaturated, and the growth rate does not rise further withincreasing nutrient concentration.
Stationary Phase
Eventually population growth ceases and the growth curvebecomes horizontal.
 This
stationary phase
usually is attained by bacteria at apopulation level of around 109 cells per ml.
Other microorganisms normally do not reach such high populationdensities, protozoan and algal cultures often having maximumconcentrations of about 106 cells per ml.
However, the final population size depends on nutrient availabilityand other factors, as well as the type of microorganism beingcultured.
In the stationary phase the total number of viable microorganismsremains constant.
 This may result from a balance between cell division and celldeath, or the population may simply cease to divide thoughremaining metabolically active.
Microbial populations enter the stationary phase for severalreasons.
One obvious factor is nutrient limitation; if an essential nutrient isseverely depleted, population growth will slow.
Aerobic organisms often are limited by O2 availability.
Oxygen is not very soluble and may be depleted so quickly thatonly the surface of a culture will have an O2 concentrationadequate for growth.
 The cells beneath the surface will not be able to grow unless theculture is shaken or aerated in another way.

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