The cytostat: A new way to study cell physiology in a precisely defined environment

James Kacmar, Alan Gilbert, Janelle Cockrell, Friedrich Srienc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


In a cytostat, a continuous culture is monitored and controlled by an automated flow cytometer system, based on the determination of the cell concentration and the single cell property distribution of the growing cell population. The growing culture can be maintained at steady state even at such low cell concentrations that the bioreactor medium composition is negligibly changed by the few cells. Therefore, the cell environment is precisely defined by the feed composition since products of cell growth are not present in significant amounts. Effects on cell growth of nutrients, of toxic compounds such as drugs, or of products made by the cells, if added to the feed medium, can be readily isolated. Using the cytostat, it is shown here that ethanol assumes the triggering function for the increase in cell size in Saccharomyces cerevisiae normally only seen at critical growth rates above critical cell densities. This suggests that ethanol assumes a quorum sensing function on cell growth when a critical cell density is reached.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank NSF for partially supporting this work. J.K. and J.C. were recipients of NIH training grant fellowships in biotechnology. We also thank B. Sonnleitner and A. Khodursky for critically reading this manuscript.


  • Cell size
  • Cytostat
  • Ethanol
  • Flow cytometry
  • Quorum sensing
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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