SUMMARY: Synchronous growth studies are often used to assess the presence, timing and duration of periodic phenomena in the bacterial cell cycle. In an effort to evaluate the quality and quantity of information on cycle-specific events that can reasonably be expected from such inquiries, a model was constructed of a synchronous culture of Escherichia coli cells as would be derived from a growing population immobilized on a surface, and applied to the case of one stable and one unstable cellular component. The results indicated that, while the presence of cycle-specific events may be easily detectable, their timing and duration are very difficult to establish in synchronous growth experiments. Furthermore, differences in timing can be misconstrued as differences in duration, and vice versa, when interpretations are based on the qualitative analysis of the data.


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