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Introducing synthetic constructs into bacteria often carries a burden that leads to reduced fitness and selective pressure for organisms to mutate their constructs and hence to a reduced functional lifetime. Understanding burden requires suitable methods for accurate measurement and quantification. We develop a dynamic growth model from physiologically relevant first-principles that allows parameters relevant to burden to be extracted from standard growth curves. We test several possibilities for the response of a bacterium to a new environment in terms of resource allocation. We find that burden manifests in the time taken to respond to new conditions as well as the rate of growth in exponential phase. Furthermore, we see that the presence of a synthetic construct hastens the reduction of ribosomes when approaching stationary phase, altering memory effects from previous periods of growth.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS Synth Biol

Publication Date





1201 - 1210


burden, growth, mathematical model, synthetic biology