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Polar growth at the bacterial scale reveals potential new targets for antibiotic therapy

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An international team of microbiologists led by Indiana University researchers has identified a new bacterial growth process -- one that occurs at a single end or pole of the cell instead of uniform, dispersed growth along the long axis of the cell -- that could have implications in the development of new antibacterial strategies.

Based on past detailed studies of rod-shaped bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, it has been assumed that most bacteria grow by binary fission, a dispersed mode of growth involving insertion of new cell wall material uniformly along the long axis of the cell. Growth requires breaking the cell wall at numerous places along the cylinder to allow insertion of new cell wall material, enabling uniform elongation of the cell, with the process culminated by cleavage at the mid-point of the cell to create two symmetric new cells.

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