SUMMARY: When cells of were incubated under fasting conditions and then plated in the presence of an inhibitor of protein synthesis, a variable but significant (>10) fraction of the population changed their morphology from rod to sphere, with a considerable thickening of the cell wall. This change was accompanied by metabolic and antibiotic-resistance modifications, including the synthesis of at least one new enzyme (α-glucosidase), and by the simultaneous appearance of several new species of DNA, presumably plasmids. The round cells grew faster than the parent strain and maintained their morphology indefinitely when propagated on complex medium containing glucose as the main carbon source. However, when glucose was omitted, cells returned to the rod form and regained their previous characteristics, including the absence of detectable plasmids.


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