The inefficiency of ribosomes functioning in Escherichia coli growing at moderate rates

Journal of General Microbiology
A L Koch


It is generally agreed that ribosomes function with reduced efficiency (i.e. a smaller proportion is actually engaged in protein synthesis) in bacteria growing at low growth rates (doubling times greater than 2 h). This paper examines whether the efficiency is constant in bacteria growing at various rates corresponding to doubling times of less than 2 h. Because isotopic methods cannot be used in very rich media, turbidimetric methods have been extended to follow the kinetics of growth immediately following the shift-up of cultures of Escherichia coli ML308 growing in glucose minimal medium or succinate minimal medium into a very rich medium supporting a balanced doubling time of 17.4 min. It is concluded that the efficiency of ribosome participation in protein synthesis is higher in the very rich medium than in the two minimal media, which support doubling times of 43 and 65 min, respectively, at 37 degrees C.


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