Bacteria have molecules present in low and fluctuating numbers that randomize cell behaviors. Understanding these stochastic processes and their impact on cells has, until recently, been limited by the lack of single-cell measurement methods. Here, we review recent developments in microfluidics that enable following individual cells over long periods of time under precisely controlled conditions, and counting individual fluorescent molecules in many cells. We showcase discoveries that were made possible using these devices in various aspects of microbiology, such as antibiotic tolerance/persistence, cell-size control, cell-fate determination, DNA damage response, and synthetic biology.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.