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September 23 2012

Bacteria replicate close to the physical limit of efficiency


The common gut bacterium Escherichia coli typically takes about 20 minutes to duplicate itself in good conditions. Could it do it any faster? A little, but not much, says biological physicist Jeremy England at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. In a preprint1, he estimates that bacteria are impressively close within a factor of two or three to the limiting efficiency of replication set by the laws of physics.

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