Pressure and temperature dependence of growth and morphology of Escherichia coli: Experiments and Stochastic Model
We have investigated the growth of Escherichia coli E.coli, a mesophilic bacterium, as a function of pressure $P$ and temperature $T$. E.coli can grow and divide in a wide range of pressure (1-400atm) and temperature ($23-40^\circ$C). For $T>30^\circ$ C, the division time of E.coli increases exponentially with pressure and exhibit a departure from exponential behavior at pressures between 250-400 atm for all the temperatures studied in our experiments. For $T<30^\circ$ C, the division time shows an anomalous dependence on pressure -- first decreases with increasing pressure and then increases upon further increase of pressure. The sharp change in division time is followed by a sharp change in phenotypic transition of E. Coli at high pressures where bacterial cells switch to an elongating cell type. We propose a model that this phenotypic changes in bacteria at high pressures is an irreversible stochastic process whereas the switching probability to elongating cell type increases with increasing pressure. The model fits well the experimental data. We discuss our experimental results in the light of structural and thus functional changes in proteins and membranes.