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By Richard J. Reece

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It can be demonstrated that if phosphoglycerate kinase is added to a mixture of 1 M of 1,3 DPG and 1 M 3PGA, concentration of 1,3DPG would decrease spontaneously and 3PGA will increase (remember that enzyme does not disturb the energetics but only hastens the reaction rate). The reverse reaction, however, cannot occur starting with 1 M concentrations of both, meaning that the reverse is not spontaneous. Eventually the concentrations of these two will reach an equilibrium concentration and remain unaltered.

The nutrient that limits the growth in this way is called the “limiting nutrient”. For example, if yeast is grown in a medium containing a different amount of glucose keeping other nutrients unlimited, µ would keep increasing and reach a maximum (Fig. 2, panel A). The relationship between the specific growth rate and the nutrient concentration is hyperbolic (Fig. 2b). The concentration of limiting nutrient at which the µ is maximum is called as µmax. Nutrient concentration at ½ µmax is Ks. The relationship between µ and the substrate concentration is given by an empirical formula µ = [S] µmax / Ks + [S], given by Monod.

This effect was called “the glucose effect”. During the course of these investigations, he also identified yeast strain unable to use galactose. By the turn of the 20th century, similar observations were rediscovered in bacteria. Henning Karstrome invoked the idea of enzyme adaptation to explain the delay in acclimatization when microbes start utilizing alternate carbon sources. He referred to enzymes existing in a living cell regardless of the nature of the nutrients present in the medium as “constitutive” while those formed only in the presence of their pathway substrate such as galactose as “adaptive”.

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