1. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
  2. Physics of Living Systems
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Single-cell growth inference of Corynebacterium glutamicum reveals asymptoticallylinear growth

  1. Joris Jan Boudewijn Messelink
  2. Fabian Meyer
  3. Marc Bramkamp  Is a corresponding author
  4. Chase P Broedersz  Is a corresponding author
  1. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
  2. Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e70106 doi: 10.7554/eLife.70106


Regulation of growth and cell size is crucial for the optimization of bacterial cellular function. So far, single bacterial cells have been found to grow predominantly exponentially, which implies the need for tight regulation to maintain cell size homeostasis. Here, we characterize the growth behavior of the apically growing bacterium Corynebacterium glutamicum using a novel broadly applicable inference method for single-cell growth dynamics. Using this approach, we find that C. glutamicum exhibits asymptotically linear single-cell growth. To explain this growth mode, we model elongation as being rate-limited by the apical growth mechanism. Our model accurately reproduces the inferred cell growth dynamics and is validated with elongation measurements on a transglycosylase deficient ΔrodA mutant. Finally, with simulations we show that the distribution of cell lengths is narrower for linear than exponential growth, suggesting that this asymptotically linear growth mode can act as a substitute for tight division length and division symmetry regulation.

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All data generated during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Joris Jan Boudewijn Messelink

    Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Fabian Meyer

    Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Marc Bramkamp

    Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7704-3266
  4. Chase P Broedersz

    Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7283-3704


Graduate School for Quantitative Biosciences Munich (Graduate Student Stipend)

  • Joris Jan Boudewijn Messelink

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (TRR 174 project P06)

  • Joris Jan Boudewijn Messelink
  • Chase P Broedersz

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (TRR 174 project P05)

  • Fabian Meyer
  • Marc Bramkamp

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Aleksandra M Walczak, École Normale Supérieure, France

Publication history

  1. Received: May 6, 2021
  2. Accepted: October 1, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 4, 2021 (version 1)
  4. Accepted Manuscript updated: October 6, 2021 (version 2)


© 2021, Messelink et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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