Calabrese, Ludovico; Jacopo Grilli; Matteo Osella; Cristopher P. Kempes; Marco Cosentino Lagomarsino and Luca Ciandrini

Growing cells adopt common basic strategies to achieve optimal resource allocation under limited resource availability. Our current understanding of such “growth laws” neglects degradation, assuming that it occurs slowly compared to the cell cycle duration. Here we argue that this assumption cannot hold at slow growth, leading to strong qualitative consequences. We propose a simple framework showing that at slow growth protein degradation is balanced by a fraction of “maintenance” ribosomes. Through a detailed analysis of compiled data, we show how this model is predictive with E. coli data and agrees with S. cerevisiae measurements. Intriguingly, model and data show an increased protein degradation at slow growth, which we interpret as a consequence of active waste management and/or recycling. Our results highlight protein turnover as an underrated factor for our understanding of growth laws across kingdoms.