Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Plants, Soils, and Climate

First Advisor

Jacob Parnell


Bacteria are amazingly resilient organisms, in that they have evolved and adapted to the many extreme environments of Earth (from salt, to pH, to temperature extremes etc.). The bacterial lifespan and death rates are as important as its growth rates in these extreme environments. Bacteria would be useful to determine the effects of age on single cells, but because bacteria reproduce asexually by binary cell fission (clonal replication), calculating the lifespan has proven elusive. Without the determination of a lifespan, age studies using bacteria have limited application. Further, it has been proposed that organisms whose somatic cell line is not distinct from its germ line such as single celled organisms like Escherichia coli K-12 are immortal (Williams et al., 1957; Johnson & Mangel, 2006).