The formation of cell wall septa was monitored in Escherichia coli B and B/r during synchronous growth in glucose media at 37 C by means of electron microscopy. The visible events of septation comprised the following sequence, starting at about 30 min of incubation: (a) bleb formation of the outer membrane; (b) invagination of mucopeptide and cytoplasmic membrane (with associated mesosomes); the outer membrane is excluded from the septum; (c) formation of a cross-wall; (d) ingrowth of the outer membrane during cell separation. The septum is composed of a fold of cytoplasmic membrane plus mucopeptide, and the latter is a double structure, composed of two opposed lamellae separated by an electron-transparent gap. Experiments with chloramphenicol and nalidixic acid suggested that division could occur in the presence of these inhibitors once a round of deoxyribonucleic acid replication is completed. The initial stages of septation, as estimated by the potential of the cells to produce bulges in the presence of ampicillin, may involve the modification of mucopeptide by hydrolases at the end of the C period. Assembly of the septum may occur during the first half of the D period by means of precursors synthesized during the preceding C period
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