Sources, propagation and consequences of stochasticity in cellular growth

Philipp Thomas, Guillaume Terradot, Vincent Danos, Andrea Weisse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growth impacts a range of phenotypic responses. Identifying the sources of growth variation and their propagation across the cellular machinery can thus unravel mechanisms that underpin cell decisions. We present a stochastic cell model linking gene expression, metabolism and replication to predict growth dynamics in single bacterial cells. Alongside we provide a theory to analyse stochastic chemical reactions coupled with cell divisions, enabling efficient parameter estimation, sensitivity analysis and hypothesis testing. The cell model recovers population-averaged data on growth-dependence of bacterial physiology and how growth variations in single cells change across conditions. We identify processes responsible for this variation and reconstruct the propagation of initial fluctuations to growth and other processes. Finally, we study drug-nutrient interactions and find that antibiotics can both enhance and suppress growth heterogeneity. Our results provide a predictive framework to integrate heterogeneous data and draw testable predictions with implications for antibiotic tolerance, evolutionary and synthetic biology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4528
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2018

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