SUMMARY: The surface stress theory of the ontogeny of the bacterial rod depends critically on whether the old poles continue to incorporate new material into the stress-bearing murein. If insertion of peptidoglycan continues, then seemingly the shape must become gradually rounder due to the surface stress resulting from the internal hydrostatic pressure. We have reanalysed our earlier experimental data by classifying grains with respect to distance from the nearest pole, and not from the cell centre as was done previously, and conclude that old poles do incorporate new diaminopimelic acid residues. This eliminates the model we have proposed for Gram-positive rods, which assumed diffuse growth on the cylindrical sides and that poles once formed would be rigid. The new results are consistent with another model (presented elsewhere) in which insertion of new murein occurs all over the surface, although not equally. This new model leads to elongation and division if the energetics of wall expansion is altered by the cell in a control region at a particular point of the cycle by the cell.


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