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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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 at 23:27
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(Kombucha) Bottles exploding is related to unfermented sugar and active yeast remaining in the bottle at a temperature typically above 50F. Bacteria (acetobacter) are not busy without the presence of oxygen. Lactobacillus may be active but they produce low amounts of CO2 slowly.

Pressure - which may cause bottles to explode - is very temperature sensitive. At 42F the CO2 in the bottle will be contained within the liquid. The warmer it is the more the CO2 expands to the headspace. That same amount of CO2 at 42F just may explode the bottle at 100F

Temperature is crucial both for the activity of yeast (produces alcohol + CO2 in equal amounts) and for the Pressure.

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