SUMMARY: The use of phage SP50 as marker for cell wall containing teichoic acid in showed clear differences in the rates at which new wall material becomes exposed at polar and cylindrical regions of the wall, though the poles were not completely conserved. Following transition from phosphate limitation to conditions that permitted synthesis of teichoic acid, old polar caps fairly rapidly incorporated enough teichoic acid to permit phage binding. Electron microscopy suggested that the new receptor material spread towards the tip of the pole from cylindrical wall so that phages bound to an increasing proportion of the pole area until only the tip lacked receptor. Eventually, receptor was present over the whole polar surface. Direct electron microscopic staining of bacteria collected during transitions between magnesium and phosphorus limitations showed that new material was incorporated at the inner surface of polar wall and later became exposed at the outer surface by removal of overlying older wall. The apparent partial conservation of the pole reflected a slower degradation of the overlying outer wall at the pole than at the cylindrical surface, the rate being graded towards the tip of the pole. The relative proportions of the new wall material incorporated into polar and cylindrical regions differed in bacteria undergoing transitions that were accompanied by upshift or downshift in growth rate. These differences can be explained on the basis that growth rate affected the rate of synthesis of cylindrical but not septal wall.


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