Episode Summary

What happens when a bacterium gets old? Continuous culture of bacteria without any added nutrients can reveal the dynamics of “old” bacteria.  

Dr. Steve Finkel is a Professor at University of Southern California who studies what happens beyond “stationary phase” in bacterial cultures. Finkel studies the Growth Advantage in Stationary Phase (GASP) phenotype, which dominates in “old” bacterial cultures, and which represents adaptive evolutionary change.  

Finkel talks about how studying old bacteria gives insight into aging in other organisms, whether bacteria can divide forever, how bacteria choose not to divide unless they are certain they can finish dividing, how carbohydrate modifications in old bacteria can help illuminate diabetes, how small differences in bacterial growth conditions can result in huge differences in bacterial physiology, and how building Mission Control in his kindergarten class ignited his passion for science.  

microTalk was pleased to be joined by Dr. Marvin Whiteley (Georgia Tech) when this podcast was recorded at the ASM Microbe 2019 conference in San Francisco, CA.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Yakov Smirnov, a Siberian lab worker who comes down with a life-threatening disease at work.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Steve Finkel, Ph.D. (University of Southern California)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Mylea Echazarreta (UTSA)
  • Marvin Whiteley, Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Subscribe to microTalk via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Android, Email or RSS and never miss an episode!