Quantifying heterogeneity: flow cytometry of bacterial cultures

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. Oct-Nov 1991;60(3-4):145-58. doi: 10.1007/BF00430362.


Flow cytometry is a technique which permits the characterisation of individual cells in populations, in terms of distributions in their properties such as DNA content, protein content, viability, enzyme activities and so on. We review the technique, and some of its recent applications to microbiological problems. It is concluded that cellular heterogeneity, in both batch and continuous axenic cultures, is far greater than is normally assumed. This has important implications for the quantitative analysis of microbial processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Colony Count, Microbial*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Micrococcus luteus / growth & development
  • RNA, Bacterial / analysis


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Bacterial