you are culturing a particular bacteria that reproduces by
binary fission. Preliminary studies indicate that the
population doubles every three
hours under optimal laboratory conditions. As shown in this animation the number of bacteria grows exponentially with each successive generation.
Given this information, how would you answer the following questions?
- How many bacteria will be present after 51 hours
if you inoculate a culture with 1 bacterium?
- How many bacteria should you inoculate a culture with if
there are to be 81,920 bacteria present on hour 42?
You may be able to inefficiently answer
these questions by brute force or trial and error. Luckily,
a quick and easy method of solution is available when
you know about exponential functions.
In fact, exponential
functions are used in a variety of
applications in the biological sciences including (but not
limited to): population growth, pH,
radioactive decay, and heat loss.
We will return to a discussion
of the above questions in the
where complete solutions will be provided.