The processes involved in cell growth are extremely complicated even for a single cell organism such as Escherichia coli
, while the relationship between growth rate and cell size is simple. We aimed to reveal the systematic link between them from the aspect of the genome-scale metabolic network. Since the growth rate reflects metabolic rates of bacteria and the cell size relates to phospholipid synthesis, a part of bacterial metabolic networks, we calculated the cell length from the cardiolipin synthesis rate, where the cardiolipin synthesis reaction is able to represent the phospholipid metabolism of Escherichia coli
in the exponential growth phase. Combined with the flux balance analysis, it enables us to predict cell length and to examine the quantitative relationship between cell length and growth rate. By simulating bacteria growing in various nutrient media with the flux balance analysis and calculating the corresponding cell length, we found that the increase of the synthesis rate of phospholipid, the cell width, and the protein fraction in membranes caused the increase of cell length with growth rate. Different tendencies of phospholipid synthesis rate changing with growth rate result in different relationships between cell length and growth rate. The effects of gene deletions on cell size and growth rate are also examined. Knocking out the genes, such as
, affects growth rate largely while affecting cell length slightly. Results of this method are in good agreement with experiments.
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