Control of Escherichia coli growth rate through cell density

Xavier Carbonell, José Luis Corchero, Rafael Cubarsí, Pau Vila, Antonio Villaverde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The transition from the exponential to the stationary phase of Escherichia coli cultures has been investigated regarding nutrient availability. This analysis strongly suggests that the declining of the cell division rate is not caused by mere nutrient limitation but also by an immediate sensing of cell concentration. In addition, both the growth rate and the final biomass achieved by a batch culture can be manipulated by altering its density during the early exponential phase. This result, which has been confirmed by using different experimental approaches, supports the hypothesis that the E. coli quorum sensing is not only determined by the release of soluble cell-to-cell communicators. Cell-associated sensing elements might also be involved in modulating the bacterial growth even in the presence of non-limiting (although declining) nutrient concentrations, thus promoting their economical utilisation in dense populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-265
JournalMicrobiological Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • Autoinducer
  • Cell density
  • Escherichia coli
  • Growth rate
  • Quorum sensing


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