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Zombie Bacteria - Lag Phase In Salmonella

Bacteria can multiply rapidly, potentially doubling every 20 minutes in ideal conditions but this exponential growth phase is preceded by a period known as lag phase, where no increase in cell number is seen. Lag phase was first described in the 19th Century, and was assumed to be needed by bacteria to prepare to exploit new environmental conditions - they are basically Zombies. Beyond this, surprisingly little is known about lag phase, other than bacteria are metabolically active in this period. But exactly what are bacteria doing physiologically during that time?

To fill in this knowledge gap researchers at Norwich BioScience Institutes and Campden BRI have developed a simple and robust system for studying the biology of Salmonella during lag phase. Salmonella remains a serious cause of food poisoning in the UK and throughout the EU, in part due to its ability to thrive and quickly adapt to the different environments in which it can grow. In this system, lag phase lasts about two hours, but the cells sense their new environment remarkably quickly, and within four minutes switch on a specific set of genes, including some that control the uptake of specific nutrients.
 
 

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