Cell shape dynamics during the staphylococcal cell cycle

Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 17;6:8055. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9055.


Staphylococcus aureus is an aggressive pathogen and a model organism to study cell division in sequential orthogonal planes in spherical bacteria. However, the small size of staphylococcal cells has impaired analysis of changes in morphology during the cell cycle. Here we use super-resolution microscopy and determine that S. aureus cells are not spherical throughout the cell cycle, but elongate during specific time windows, through peptidoglycan synthesis and remodelling. Both peptidoglycan hydrolysis and turgor pressure are required during division for reshaping the flat division septum into a curved surface. In this process, the septum generates less than one hemisphere of each daughter cell, a trait we show is common to other cocci. Therefore, cell surface scars of previous divisions do not divide the cells in quadrants, generating asymmetry in the daughter cells. Our results introduce a need to reassess the models for division plane selection in cocci.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Plasmids / physiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / cytology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins