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Tradeoffs between fast growth and adaptability shape microbial phenotypes

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Leona Hope-Coles.

This talk is being given as part of the selection process for the University Lectureship in Biological Physics. All welcome

Microorganisms exhibit a striking diversity of phenotypes in different conditions. Changes in growth rates are accompanied by large variations in metabolic strategies, gene expression and cell size. However, the molecular basis and underlying rationale of many of these complex patterns remains poorly understood. We illustrate how a quantitative approach, based on establishing empirical relations between cellular phenotypes, can help to elucidate such questions by focusing on two long-standing biological problems: the origin of overflow metabolism and the emergence of severe, multi-hour lag phases. Coarse-grained models yield a quantitative and predictive understanding of phenotypic patterns under environmental as well as genetic perturbations and can even shed light on underlying molecular mechanisms. A common theme that emerges is the existence of fundamental tradeoffs between fast growth and the ability to swiftly adapt to environmental changes or stress conditions.

This talk is part of the Special Departmental Seminars series.

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