Changes in the ultraviolet sensitivity of Escherichia coli during growth in batch cultures.
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The ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity of Escherichia coli B/r harvested at various times during growth in batch cultures was measured. The results showed a period of increased UV sensitivity in late log phase, just before the cultures entered stationary phase. This increase in sensitivity was associated with a decreased shoulder in the UV survival curves. The postirradiation division delay of survivors was shortest for cells harvested during the period of maximal sensitivity. This period of increased UV sensitivity during late log phase was not found in the radiation-sensitive, repair-deficient mutant B(s-1) (a strain which is unable to excise pyrimidine dimers from UV-damaged deoxyribonucleic acid). These results suggest that the variation in UV sensitivity of E. coli B/r as a function of time of harvesting of the cells from batch cultures is related to the varying capacities of these populations to repair UV-damaged deoxyribonucleic acid. Further experiments designed to elucidate the mechanism underlying this variation in UV sensitivity indicated that it arises from the partial depletion of nutrients in the medium during late log phase. We suggest that growth in such depleted media leads to a depression in the intercellular concentration or activity of one or more of the repair enzymes concerned with the repair of damaged deoxyribonucleic acid.
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