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Summary

Many recent reviews in the field of bacterial chromosome segregation propose that newly replicated DNA is actively separated by the functioning of specific proteins. This view is primarily based on an interpretation of the position of fluorescently labelled DNA regions and proteins in analogy to the active segregation mechanism in eukaryotic cells, i.e. to mitosis. So far, physical aspects of DNA organization such as the diffusional movement of DNA supercoil segments and their interaction with soluble proteins, leading to a phase separation between cytoplasm and nucleoid, have received relatively little attention. Here, a quite different view is described taking into account DNA–protein interactions, the large variation in the cellular position of fluorescent foci and the compaction and fusion of segregated nucleoids upon inhibition of RNA or protein synthesis. It is proposed that the random diffusion of DNA supercoil segments is transiently constrained by the process of co- transcriptional translation and translocation (transertion) of membrane proteins. After initiation of DNA replication, a bias in the positioning of transertion areas creates a bidirectionality in chromosome segre-gation that becomes self-enhanced when neigh-bouring genes on the same daughter chromosome are expressed. This transertion-mediated segregation model is applicable to multifork replication during rapid growth and to multiple chromosomes and plasmids that occur in many bacteria.