Various bacteria such as the canonical gram negative Escherichia coli or the well-studied gram positive Bacillus subtilis divide symmetrically after they approximately double their volume. Their size at division is not constant, but is typically distributed over a narrow range. Here, we propose an analytically tractable model for cell size control, and calculate the cell size and inter-division time distributions, and the correlations between these variables. We suggest ways of extracting the model parameters from experimental data, and show that existing data for E. coli supports partial size control, and a particular explanation: a cell attempts to add a constant volume from the time of initiation of DNA replication to the next initiation event. This hypothesis accounts for the experimentally observed correlations between mother and daughter cells as well as the exponential dependence of size on growth rate.
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