Bacteria Regulate Turgor Pressure in Order to Grow

Teuta Pilizota, Joshua W. Shaevitz

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


The extreme concentrations of chemicals in a bacterium's cytoplasm generate an osmotic pressure that inflates the cell. It is thought that E. coli use a number of interconnected systems to adapt to changes in external pressure, allowing them to maintain turgor and live in environments that range more than two-hundred-fold in external osmolality. To date, how this adaptation is achieved and why pressure is required for survival have been poorly addressed. Previous measurements of osmoregulation in bacteria have been unable to directly probe a single cell's adaptation, focusing instead on the activity of various transporters, or changes in population growth rates. I will show that different mechanisms used by bacteria can be explored using fluorescence imaging to monitor changes in cell shape during adaptation on a single cell level with a time resolution on the order of seconds. This type of measurement allows the different adaptation pathways to be studied individually as well as in defined groups. Furthermore, I will demonstrate that using a number of interconnected systems; bacteria actively regulate their turgor pressure to a preset value, despite changes in their local environment. This precise value of the turgor pressure is required for cell growth and I will make direct connections between pressure adaptation and growth rate in challenging environments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281a
Number of pages1
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number3 (Suppl 1)
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2011

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