Synchronous culture
A synchronous or synchronized culture is a microbiological culture
Microbiological culture
A microbiological culture, or microbial culture, is a method of multiplying microbial organisms by letting them reproduce in predetermined culture media under controlled laboratory conditions. Microbial cultures are used to determine the type of organism, its abundance in the sample being tested,...

 or a cell culture
Cell culture
Cell culture is the complex process by which cells are grown under controlled conditions. In practice, the term "cell culture" has come to refer to the culturing of cells derived from singlecellular eukaryotes, especially animal cells. However, there are also cultures of plants, fungi and microbes,...

 that contains cell
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

s that are all in the same growth
Cell growth
The term cell growth is used in the contexts of cell development and cell division . When used in the context of cell division, it refers to growth of cell populations, where one cell grows and divides to produce two "daughter cells"...


Since numerous factors influence the cell cycle, some of them stochastic
Stochastic refers to systems whose behaviour is intrinsically non-deterministic. A stochastic process is one whose behavior is non-deterministic, in that a system's subsequent state is determined both by the process's predictable actions and by a random element. However, according to M. Kac and E...

 (random), normal, non-synchronous cultures have cells in all stages of the cell cycle
Cell cycle
The cell cycle, or cell-division cycle, is the series of events that takes place in a cell leading to its division and duplication . In cells without a nucleus , the cell cycle occurs via a process termed binary fission...

. Obtaining a culture with a unified cell-cycle stage is very useful for biological research. Since cells are too small for certain research techniques, a synchronous culture can be treated as a single cell; the number of cells in the culture can be easily estimated, and quantitative experimental results can simply be divided in the number of cells to obtain values that apply to a single cell. Synchronous cultures have been extensively used to address questions regarding cell cycle and growth, and the effects of various factors on these.

Synchronous cultures can be obtained in several ways:
  • External conditions can be changed, so as to arrest growth of all cells in the culture, and then changed again to resume growth. The newly growing cells are now all starting to grow at the same stage, and they are synchronized. For example, for photosynthetic
    Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

     cells light
    Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

     can be eliminated for several hours and then re-introduced. Another method is to eliminate an essential nutrient
    A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism's metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy...

     from the growth medium
    Growth medium
    A growth medium or culture medium is a liquid or gel designed to support the growth of microorganisms or cells, or small plants like the moss Physcomitrella patens.There are different types of media for growing different types of cells....

     and later to re-introduce it.
  • Cell growth can also be arrested using chemical growth inhibitors
    Growth inhibition
    Growth inhibition is a medical term pertaining to cancer therapy and the specific reduction in growth of tumors and oncogene cells by a chemical compound, mechanical therapy , radiation, gene therapy, protein therapy, ultrasound waves, light, or other treatment...

    . After growth has completely stopped for all cells, the inhibitor can be easily removed from the culture and the cells then begin to grow synchronously. Nocodazole
    Nocodazole is an anti-neoplastic agent which exerts its effect in cells by interfering with the polymerization of microtubules. Microtubules are one type of fibre which constitutes the cytoskeleton, and the dynamic microtubule network has several important roles in the cell, including vesicular...

    , for example, is often used in biological research for this purpose.
  • Cells in different growth stages have different physical properties. Cells in a culture can thus be physically separated based on their density
    The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

     or size, for instance. This can be achieved using centrifugation
    Centrifugation is a process that involves the use of the centrifugal force for the sedimentation of mixtures with a centrifuge, used in industry and in laboratory settings. More-dense components of the mixture migrate away from the axis of the centrifuge, while less-dense components of the mixture...

     (for density) or filtration
    Filtration is commonly the mechanical or physical operation which is used for the separation of solids from fluids by interposing a medium through which only the fluid can pass...

    (for size).
  • In the Helmstetter-Cumming technique, a bacterial culture is filtered through a membrane. Most bacteria pass through, but some remain bound to the membrane. Fresh medium is then applied to the membrane and the bound bacteria start to grow. Newborn bacteria that detach from the membrane are now all at the same stage of growth; they are collected in a flask that now harbors a synchronous culture.
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