We present experimental data on the nematic alignment of Escherichia coli bacteria confined in a slit, with an emphasis on the effect of growth rate and corresponding changes in cell aspect ratio. Global alignment with the channel walls arises from the combination of local nematic ordering of nearby cells, induced by cell division and the elongated shape of the cells, and the preferential orientation of cells proximate to the side walls of the slit. Decreasing the growth rate leads to a decrease in alignment with the walls, which is attributed primarily to effects of changing cell aspect ratio rather than changes in the variance in cell area. Decreasing confinement also reduces the degree of alignment by a similar amount as a decrease in the growth rate, but the distribution of the degree of alignment differs. The onset of alignment with the channel walls is coincident with the slits reaching their steady-state occupancy and connected to the re-orientation of locally aligned regions with respect to the walls during density fluctuations.
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