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Revealing the adaptive internal organization and dynamics of bacteria and mitochondria

Objective

Bacteria cells appear to be less complex than our own cells -- yet they are better able to survive harsh conditions. Typically ~1 micron in size, they lack motor proteins; thus, they rely on fluctuations for intracellular transport. Bacteria in the environment often face starvation and exist in a non-proliferating quiescent state, which promotes antibiotic resistance and virulence. Entering quiescence, the bacterial cytoplasm displays signatures of the colloidal glass transition, with increasingly slow and heterogeneous diffusion. Also important for fitness during starvation is the formation of storage granules up to hundreds of nanometers in size. The complex state behavior of the bacterial cytoplasm is therefore important for their survival, but the physical nature of each of these processes is poorly understood. Our own cells are typically tens of microns in size and contain organelles including mitochondria, which originated from ancient bacterial endosymbionts. But little is known about the transport properties of the mitochondrial matrix, or how it responds to changes in mitochondrial membrane potential or energy production.
The goal of this project is to elucidate the organization and dynamics of the bacterial cytoplasm and the mitochondrial matrix. A major obstacle to studying the interior of bacteria and mitochondria is the relevant length scales, which lie below the diffraction limit. Furthermore, to observe and quantify their adaptive response, many cells must be measured. Our strategy to overcome both of these technical challenges is to use high-throughput super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. We have developed new microscopes, capable of capturing thousands of super-resolved cells in each experiment. We propose to translate these developments to dynamic structured illumination and long-term molecular tracking. Broadly applicable, this will also enable the quantitative study of the subcellular properties of single bacteria cells or mitochondria.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/microbiology/bacteriology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins
  • /social sciences/social and economic geography/transport
  • /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/pharmacology and pharmacy/drug resistance/antibiotic resistance

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-COG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-COG - Consolidator Grant

Host institution

ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
Address
Batiment Ce 3316 Station 1
1015 Lausanne
Switzerland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 2 366 835

Beneficiaries (1)

ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 2 366 835
Address
Batiment Ce 3316 Station 1
1015 Lausanne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments