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Issue 14, 2016
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Shape dynamics of growing cell walls

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We introduce a general theoretical framework to study the shape dynamics of actively growing and remodeling surfaces. Using this framework we develop a physical model for growing bacterial cell walls and study the interplay of cell shape with the dynamics of growth and constriction. The model allows us to derive constraints on cell wall mechanical energy based on the observed dynamics of cell shape. We predict that exponential growth in cell size requires a constant amount of cell wall energy to be dissipated per unit volume. We use the model to understand and contrast growth in bacteria with different shapes such as spherical, ellipsoidal, cylindrical and toroidal morphologies. Coupling growth to cell wall constriction, we predict a discontinuous shape transformation, from partial constriction to cell division, as a function of the chemical potential driving cell wall synthesis. Our model for cell wall energy and shape dynamics relates growth kinetics with cell geometry, and provides a unified framework to describe the interplay between shape, growth and division in bacterial cells.

Graphical abstract: Shape dynamics of growing cell walls

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Article information

10 Dec 2015
18 Feb 2016
First published
18 Feb 2016

Soft Matter, 2016,12, 3442-3450
Article type

Shape dynamics of growing cell walls

S. Banerjee, N. F. Scherer and A. R. Dinner, Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 3442
DOI: 10.1039/C5SM02991K

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