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This is kind of a thought experiment, but are there any conditions under which bacteria could multiply enough to burst the container they're in?

Thoughts so far: Bacteria often need oxygen to multiply, but I believe not always? They need a food source, but perhaps despite that mass already being present they might still have a larger overall volume afterwards?

For the sake of this question, I'd like to be fairly loose with the word "container", i.e. not necessarily something solid glass or even solid for that matter, but at least closed. Perhaps I could have bacteria in a bubble and they could burst that?

Thanks for indulging!

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    $\begingroup$ some bacteria can convert solids ot gasses so they can generate things that could burst a container. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 27 '17 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ thanks @John, do you know if there are bacteria that could still burst a container without producing gas? i.e. purely from the volume of the bacteria themselves? (I'd imagine they'd need to consume a fairly dense food supply) $\endgroup$ – John Nov 28 '17 at 10:01
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Yes. Bacteria (and fungi) can digest sugar to produce CO2 gas. The latter occupies more space, and can burst contains such as closely sealed bottles (e.g.: for a bacteria / yeast co-culture: http://kombuchahome.com/how-to-prevent-your-kombucha-bottles-from-exploding/ )

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks @tsttst! Do you know if there are bacteria that could still burst a container without producing gas? i.e. purely from the volume of the bacteria themselves? (I'd imagine they'd need to consume a fairly dense food supply) $\endgroup$ – John Nov 25 '17 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ @John: If the container is a closed system, the bacteria can only utilize the matter available within the container and thus cannot outgrow the container. $\endgroup$ – user37894 Nov 27 '17 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinKlvana they couldn't acquire more mass, but could increase in volume/pressure to outgrow it, much like a shaken can of soft drink (but in this case I'd prefer to focus on a case not involving gas evolution) $\endgroup$ – John Nov 28 '17 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ @John: Yes, but only if the density of bacterial mass is much much lower than the density of the original content of the container. So, the question is then, what is the difference in density between the bacteria and the bacteria-free nutrients? $\endgroup$ – user37894 Nov 28 '17 at 23:27

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