The molecular architecture of peptidoglycan and the rate of peptidoglycan biosynthesis relative to cytoplasmic expansion play essential roles in determining bacterial size and shape

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Cell size and shape are cell-scale properties many orders of magnitude larger than individual proteins, and it is largely unknown how cells coordinate the growth of such reproducible, uniform, large-scale structures. In this thesis I present several lines of inquiry to address what determines cell size and shape in several bacterial species. First, I investigate a point mutation in the morphogenetic protein MreB and find that the resulting variable-width phenotype reveals a role for surface area to volume ratio (SA/V) maintenance in determining cell shape and size. Next, I present a general mechanism for SA/V homeostasis in bacteria and demonstrate that this mechanism underlies size determination in bacteria, resolving many long-standing questions about the link between growth rate and cell size. Finally, I develop a novel method for detecting the underlying architecture of peptidoglycan that can be widely implemented to understand how genetic and chemical perturbations acting locally give rise to cell-scale morphological defects.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2016
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Harris, Leigh Kathleen
Associated with Stanford University, Biophysics Program.
Primary advisor Theriot, Julie
Thesis advisor Theriot, Julie
Thesis advisor Fisher, Daniel S
Thesis advisor Huang, Kerwyn Casey, 1979-
Thesis advisor Shapiro, Lucy
Advisor Fisher, Daniel S
Advisor Huang, Kerwyn Casey, 1979-
Advisor Shapiro, Lucy


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Leigh Kathleen Harris.
Note Submitted to the Program in Biophysics.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2016 by Leigh Kathleen Harris
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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