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Cell Division and Rates of Population Growth

Author(s): Lou Gross1, Monica Beals1, Susan Harrell1

University of Tennessee Knoxville

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This module introduces the exponential growth of cells in the context of understanding cell division. It is intended for an introductory biology audience.


This activity maps to the OpenStax biology textbook, 10.4 Cancer and the Cell Cycle.

Student Introduction: It is often necessary in experimental research to quantify the dividing capabilities of cells when investigating manipulations of the cells or their environment. The growth of cell populations can be modeled by assuming each cell divides into two, and the rate of growth depends on the length of the cell cycle. However, the simplicity of this idea may lead to misinterpretations in some circumstances. The growth rate of a population may be reduced if the length of the cell cycle increases. However, the growth rate may also be reduced if only a fraction of the cells is dividing.

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