The cylindrical cells of Schizosaccharomyces pombe grow in length by extension at the ends and not the middle. At the beginning of the cell cycle, growth is restricted to the ‘old end’, which existed in the previous cycle. Later on, the ‘new end’, formed from the septum, starts to grow at a point in the cycle that we have called NETO (‘new end take-off’). Fluorescence microscopy on cells stained with Calcofluor has been used to study NETO in size mutants, in blocked cdc mutants and with different growth temperatures and media. In wild-type cells (strain 972) NETO happens at 0.34 of the cycle with a cell length of 9.5 microns. With size mutants that are smaller at division, NETO takes place at the same size (9.0-9.5 microns) but this is not achieved until later in the cycle. Another control operates in larger size mutants since NETO occurs at the same stage of the cycle (about 0.32) as in wild type but at a larger cell size. This control is probably a requirement to have completed an event in early G2, since most cdc mutant cells blocked before this point in the cycle do not show NETO whereas most of those blocked in late G2 do show it. We conclude that NETO only happens if: (1) the cell length is greater than a critical value of 9.0-9.5 microns; and (2) the cell has traversed the first 0.3-0.35 of the cycle and passed early G2. NETO is delayed in poor media, in which cell size is also reduced. Temperature has little effect on NETO under steady-state conditions, but there is a transient delay for some hours after a temperature shift. NETO is later in another wild-type strain, 132. Time-lapse photomicrography was used to follow the rates of length growth in single cells. Wild-type cells showed two linear segments during the first 75% of the cycle. There was a rate-change point (RCP), coincident with NETO, where the rate of total length extension increased by 35%. This increase was not due simply to the start of new-end growth, since old-end growth slowed down in some cells at the RCP. cdc 11.123 is a mutant in which septation and division is blocked at 35 degrees C but nuclear division continues.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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