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Stan comments on these comments:

By definition, a Talmudic Question shouldn't have a simple answer. This one surely depends greatly on what Your Favorite Bacterium is, and what medium you grow it on, and how you incubate it.

If YFB is a swarmer, you may be able to inhibit swarming (say, by making the agar 5% NaCl) and then ask the Question.

Some combinations of bacterium and medium can indeed give bacterial growth that is inhibited only by the drying-out of the agar. You can control for this by putting a stack of filter paper in the lid of the Petri dish and keeping it soaked for days or weeks, until the colony covers the whole plate.

Some combos really give a finite colony size. This seems generally to result from toxic products (poorly diffusible?) released from the bacteria. Perhaps a better medium - say, one without sugar, if YFB is a fermenter - will give bigger colonies. Do near-by colonies of YFB fuse as they grow, or inhibit each other?

Do not try to answer this Talmudic Question if YSB produces an agarase.

-- Stan Zahler

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