The stationary phase of the bacterial life cycle.
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In the natural environment bacteria seldom encounter conditions that permit periods of exponential growth. Rather, bacterial growth is characterized by long periods of nutritional deprivation punctuated by short periods that allow fast growth, a feature that is commonly referred to as the feast-or-famine lifestyle. In this chapter we review the recent advances made in our understanding of the molecular events that allow some gram-negative bacteria to survive prolonged periods of starvation. After an introductory description of the properties of starved gram-negative bacteria, the review presents three aspects of stationary phase: entry into stationary phase, responses during prolonged starvation, and reentry into the growth cycle.