How to get (a)round: mechanisms controlling growth and division of coccoid bacteria

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2013 Sep;11(9):601-14. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3088.


Bacteria come in a range of shapes, including round, rod-shaped, curved and spiral cells. This morphological diversity implies that different mechanisms exist to guide proper cell growth, division and chromosome segregation. Although the majority of studies on cell division have focused on rod-shaped cells, the development of new genetic and cell biology tools has provided mechanistic insight into the cell cycles of bacteria with different shapes, allowing us to appreciate the underlying molecular basis for their morphological diversity. In this Review, we discuss recent progress that has advanced our knowledge of the complex mechanisms for chromosome segregation and cell division in bacteria which have, deceptively, the simplest possible shape: the cocci.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / physiology
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial
  • Enterococcus / cytology
  • Enterococcus / growth & development
  • Enterococcus / physiology*
  • Gram-Positive Cocci / cytology
  • Gram-Positive Cocci / growth & development
  • Gram-Positive Cocci / physiology*
  • Neisseria / cytology
  • Neisseria / growth & development
  • Neisseria / physiology*
  • Peptidoglycan / metabolism


  • Peptidoglycan