Interest in the expanding catalog of uncultivated microorganisms, increasing recognition of heterogeneity among seemingly similar cells, and technological advances in whole-genome amplification and single-cell manipulation are driving considerable progress in single-cell genomics. Here, the spectrum of applications for single-cell genomics, key advances in the development of the field, and emerging methodology for single-cell genome sequencing are reviewed by example with attention to the diversity of approaches and their unique characteristics. Experimental strategies transcending specific methodologies are identified and organized as a road map for future studies in single-cell genomics of environmental microorganisms. Over the next decade, increasingly powerful tools for single-cell genome sequencing and analysis will play key roles in accessing the genomes of uncultivated organisms, determining the basis of microbial community functions, and fundamental aspects of microbial population biology.
© 2013 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.