Regulation of Gene Expression in Stationary Phase

  • Heidi Goodrich-Blair
  • María Uría-Nickelsen
  • Roberto Kolter


Among the first concepts presented to a student of microbiology is the simplified view of the phases of a bacterial culture: lag, exponential, and stationary. Interest in studying the underlying physiology of a bacterial cell as it shifts between these phases has always been high among bacterial physiologists. Despite this interest, molecular genetic approaches were not applied to the study of regulation of gene expression in stationary phase Escherichia coli cultures until the last few years. This may have been partially due to the fact that many investigators felt that, in contrast to the highly differentiated spores of starving Bacillus subtilis, 1 Myxococcus xanthus, 2 or Streptomyces, 3 starved E. coli cells were simply a nongrowing version of exponential phase cells. The fact that microorganisms in nature must by necessity spend most of their existence in a nongrowing, or an extremely slow growing state, eventually led some investigators to the study of nongrowing E. coli in the laboratory. As more and more researchers explore the E. coli starvation response we are beginning to understand the remarkable developmental changes this organism undergoes during stationary phase.4-7 Cells respond to starvation by turning on a reversible program of gene expression enabling them to survive prolonged periods of nutrient deprivation.


Escherichia Coli Stationary Phase Sigma Factor Gene ExPRESSION rpoS Gene 


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© R.G. Landes Company 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi Goodrich-Blair
  • María Uría-Nickelsen
  • Roberto Kolter

There are no affiliations available

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