Growth and Control of the Cell Wall: A Mechanical Model for Bacillus Subtilis

  • John J. Thwaites
Part of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies Symposium Series book series (FEMS, volume 65)


Turgor pressure in bacterial cells has been known for a long time (Mitchell and Moyle, 1956). It is therefore surprising that the first attempt to relate it to cell shape was not made until 12 years ago (Koch et al., 1981). The basic idea, as later expressed by Koch (1983), is that growth and division are not primarily the result of molecular arrangement but are driven by the cell wall stresses due to turgor. Subsequent attempts to develop the idea have not been made with the thoroughness the subject requires. The so-called’ surface-stress theory’, despite the large number of papers written about it, remains little more than a good idea. The main reasons for this are that the problems considered have not been posed properly mechanically and that no stress analysis has been done.


Bacillus Subtilis Wall Material Hoop Stress Turgor Pressure Longitudinal Stress 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Thwaites
    • 1
  1. 1.Engineering DepartmentCambridge UniversityCambridgeUK

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