Defining the Potential of a Single Species Consortia via Single Cell Proteomics/Metabolomics

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(a) The technological objective is to develop single cell metabolic assays that can be used to characterize ‘single genotype consortia’. Traditionally, this is done at the transcript level, using reporter genes that reflect the appearance of one or more of the phenotypes. However, functional metabolic characterization in single cells can yield deeper insights into the consortia properties. Shown here is sample analysis possible with this approach, specifically correlation networks of single cell metabolic analysis in model GBM cells. (b) Sample image of B. subtilis cells inside a microfluidic device switching between 2 states, represented by red and green respectively.

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A microbial consortium is defined as two or more microbial groups living symbiotically. Such consortia can be used for environmental remediation, fuel production, etc., and can, in principle, perform more complicated tasks and with greater robustness than monocultures. However, a consortium can also exhibit internal competition, with one group eventually dominating, and so stability can be challenging to achieve. This project will investigate the possibility of consortia behavior from a single microbe genotype that is, a single species that has the capacity to switch between different metabolic states such that the population exhibits a phenotypic equilibrium characteristic of a multi-species consortia. We propose to bring together a microbial system under development in the Elowitz lab with single cell analysis platforms developed in the Heath lab in an initial study to enable this goal.



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