Stationary Size Distributions of Growing Cells with Binary and Multiple Cell Division

M. M. Rading, T. A. Engel, R. Lipowsky, A. Valleriani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Populations of unicellular organisms that grow under constant environmental conditions are considered theoretically. The size distribution of these cells is calculated analytically, both for the usual process of binary division, in which one mother cell produces always two daughter cells, and for the more complex process of multiple division, in which one mother cell can produce 2n daughter cells with n = 1,2,3,... . The latter mode of division is inspired by the unicellular algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The uniform response of the whole population to different environmental conditions is encoded in the individual rates of growth and division of the cells. The analytical treatment of the problem is based on size-dependent rules for cell growth and stochastic transition processes for cell division. The comparison between binary and multiple division shows that these different division processes lead to qualitatively different results for the size distribution and the population growth rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Statistical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


  • Cell size distribution
  • Multiple cell division
  • Population balance equations
  • Stochastic cell division
  • Structured populations


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