An ultradian oscillation is described for which meets the criteria for a cellular clock, i.e. timekeeping device. The rhythm can be induced by transfer from circadian conditions (stationary phase or very slow growth) to ultradian conditions (rapid growth). It can also be synchronized by ultradian temperature cycles of 6°C difference. Released to constant temperature, the rhythm persists for 20 h without damping. The period of the free-running rhythm is temperature-compensated and in no experiment did period length fall outside the narrow range between 40 and 44 min. The parameter observed is the septum index, i.e. the percentage of cells occupying the last stage of the cell cycle in wild-type cells before final division. The results suggest control of the cell division processes by the ultradian clock.


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