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Non-linear population dynamics in chemostats associated with live-dead cell cycling in Escherichia coli strain K12-MG1655

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ernest Chi Fru, Dr Dana OfiteruORCiD, Professor Vasile Lavric, Dr David Graham


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Bacterial populations conditionally display non-linear dynamic behaviour in bioreactors with steady inputs, which is often attributed to varying habitat conditions or shifting intracellular metabolic activity. However, mathematical modelling has predicted that such dynamics also might simply result from staggered birth, growth, and death events of groups of cells within the population, causing density oscillations and the cycling of live and deal cells within the system. To assess this prediction, laboratory experiments were performed on Escherichia coli strain K12-MG1655 grown in chemostats to first define fine-scale population dynamics over time (minutes) and then determine whether the dynamics correlate with live-dead cell-cycles in the system. E. coli populations displayed consistent oscillatory behaviour in all experiments. However, close synchronisation between OD600 and live-dead cell oscillations (within ~33-38 minute cycles) only became statistically significant (p < 0.01) when pseudo-steady state operations approaching carrying capacity existed in the reactor. Specifically, live cells were highest at local OD600 maxima and lowest at local OD600 minima, showing that oscillations followed live-dead cell cycles as predicted by the model and also consistent with recent observations that death is non-stochastic in such populations. These data show that oscillatory dynamic behaviour is intrinsic in bioreactor populations, which has implications to process operations in biotechnology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chi-Fru E, Ofiteru ID, Lavric V, Graham DW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Year: 2011

Volume: 89

Issue: 3

Pages: 791-998

Print publication date: 03/10/2010

ISSN (print): 0175-7598

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0614

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00253-010-2895-6


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Funder referenceFunder name
MEXT 023469Marie Curie Excellence Grant