A cytomic approach reveals population heterogeneity of Cupriavidus necator in response to harmful phenol concentrations

Authors

  • Claudia Wiacek,

    1. Department of Environmental Microbiology, UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Susann Müller Dr.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Microbiology, UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Leipzig, Germany
    • Department of Environmental Microbiology, UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle GmbH, Permoserstr. 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany Fax: +49-341-235-2247
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  • Dirk Benndorf

    1. Department of Proteomics, UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Leipzig, Germany
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Abstract

The understanding of functions of cells within microbial populations or communities is certainly needed for existing and novel cytomic approaches which grip the individual scale. Population behaviour results from single cell performances and is caused by the individual genetic pool, history, life cycle states and microenvironmental surroundings. Mimicking natural impaired environments, the paper shows that the Gram-negative Betaproteobacterium Cupriavidus necator dramatically altered its population heterogeneity in response to harmful phenol concentrations. Multiparametric flow cytometry was used to follow variations in structural cellular parameters like chromosome contents and storage materials. The functioning of these different cell types was resolved by ensuing proteomics after the cells' spatial separation by cell sorting, finding 11 proteins changed in their expression profile, among them elongation factor Tu and the trigger factor. At least one third of the individuals clearly underwent starving states; however, simultaneously these cells prepared themselves for entering the life cycle again. Using cytomics to recognise individual structure and function on the microbial scale represents an innovative technical design to describe the complexity of such systems, overcoming the disadvantage of small cell volumes and, thus, to resolve bacterial strategies to survive harmful environments by altering population heterogeneity.

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