The growth curve. The growth of a bacterial population can be expressed in various phases of a growth curve. The logarithms of the actual numbers in the population are plotted in the growth curve along the side axis, and the time is plotted at the base. Four phases of growth are recognized in the growth curve. In the first phase, called the lag phase, the population remains at the same number as the bacteria become accustomed to their new environment. Metabolic activity is taking place, and new cells are being produced to offset those that are dying. In the logarithmic phase, or log phase, bacterial growth occurs at its optimal level and the population doubles rapidly. This phase is represented by a straight line, and the
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