Projects per year
Heterotrophic bacteria grow and divide rapidly when resources are abundant. Yet resources are finite, and environments fluctuate, so bacteria need strategies to survive when nutrients become scarce. In fact, many bacteria spend most of their time in such conditions of nutrient limitation, and hence they need to optimise gene regulation and protein biosynthesis during growth arrest. An optimal strategy in these conditions must mitigate the challenges and risks of making new proteins, while the cell is severely limited for energy and substrates. Recently, ribosome abundance and activity were measured in these conditions, revealing very low amounts of new protein synthesis, which is nevertheless vital for survival. The underlying mechanisms are only now starting to be explored. Improving our understanding of the regulation of protein production during bacterial growth arrest could have important implications for a wide range of challenges, including the identification of new targets for antibiotic development.