Perturbation of cellular processes is a prevailing approach to understanding biology. To better understand the complicated biology that defines bacterial shape, a sensitive, high-content platform was developed to detect multiple morphological defect phenotypes using microscopy. We examined morphological phenotypes across the Escherichia coli K-12 deletion (Keio) collection at the mid-exponential growth phase, revealing 111 deletions perturbing shape. Interestingly, 64% of these were uncharacterized mutants, illustrating the complex nature of shape maintenance and regulation in bacteria. To understand the roles these genes play in defining morphology, 53 mutants with knockouts resulting in abnormal cell shape were crossed with the Keio collection in high throughput, generating 1,373 synthetic lethal interactions across 1.7 million double deletion mutants. This analysis yielded a highly populated interaction network spanning and linking multiple phenotypes, with a preponderance of interactions involved in transport, oxidation-reduction, and metabolic processes.


French S, Côté JP, Stokes JM, Truant R, Brown ED.


mBio. 2017 Mar 7;8(2):e01977-16. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01977-16