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  1. How cells regulate their cell cycles is a central question for cell biology. Models of cell size homeostasis have been proposed for bacteria, archaea, yeast, plant, and mammalian cells. New experiments bring forth high volumes of data suitable for testing existing models of cell size regulation and proposing new mechanisms. In this paper, we use conditional independence tests in conjunction with data of cell size at key cell cycle events (birth, initiation of DNA replication, and constriction) in the model bacterium Escherichia coli to select between the competing cell cycle models. We find that in all growth conditions that we study, the division event is controlled by the onset of constriction at midcell. In slow growth, we corroborate a model where replication-related processes control the onset of constriction at midcell. In faster growth, we find that the onset of constriction is affected by additional cues beyond DNA replication. Finally, we also find evidence for the presence of additional cues triggering initiations of DNA replication apart from the conventional notion where the mother cells solely determine the initiation event in the daughter cells via an adder per origin model. The use of conditional independence tests is a different approach in the context of understanding cell cycle regulation and it can be used in future studies to further explore the causal links between cell events. 
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  2. All cells – from bacteria to humans – tightly control their size as they grow and divide. Cells can also change the speed at which they grow, and the pattern of how fast a cell grows with time is called ‘mode of growth’. Mode of growth can be ‘linear’, when cells increase their size at a constant rate, or ‘exponential’, when cells increase their size at a rate proportional to their current size. A cell’s mode of growth influences its inner workings, so identifying how a cell grows can reveal information about how a cell will behave. Scientists can measure the size of cells as they age and identify their mode of growth using single cell imaging techniques. Unfortunately, the statistical methods available to analyze the large amounts of data generated in these experiments can lead to incorrect conclusions. Specifically, Kar et al. found that scientists had been using specific types of plots to analyze growth data that were prone to these errors, and may lead to misinterpreting exponential growth as linear and vice versa. This discrepancy can be resolved by ensuring that the plots used to determine the mode of growth are adequate for this analysis. But how can the adequacy of a plot be tested? One way to do this is to generate synthetic data from a known model, which can have a specific and known mode of growth, and using this data to test the different plots. Kar et al. developed such a ‘generative model’ to produce synthetic data similar to the experimental data, and used these data to determine which plots are best suited to determine growth mode. Once they had validated the best statistical methods for studying mode of growth, Kar et al. applied these methods to growth data from the bacterium Escherichia coli . This showed that these cells have a form of growth called ‘super-exponential growth’. These findings identify a strategy to validate statistical methods used to analyze cell growth data. Furthermore, this strategy – the use of generative models to produce synthetic data to test the accuracy of statistical methods – could be used in other areas of biology to validate statistical approaches. 
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