Harnessing cell-to-cell variations to probe bacterial structure and biophysics
Cass, Julie Ann
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Advances in microscopy and biotechnology have given us novel insights into cellular biology and physics. While bacteria were long considered to be relatively unstructured, the development of fluorescence microscopy techniques, and spatially and temporally resolved high-throughput quantitative studies, have uncovered that the bacterial cell is highly organized, and its structure rigorously maintained. In this thesis I will describe our gateTool soft- ware, designed to harness cell-to-cell variations to probe bacterial structure, and discuss two exciting aspects of structure that we have employed gateTool to investigate: (i) chromosome organization and the cellular mechanisms for controlling DNA dynamics, and (ii) the study of cell wall synthesis, and how the genes in the synthesis pathway impact cellular shape. In the first project, we develop a spatial and temporal mapping of cell-cycle-dependent chromosomal organization, and use this quantitative map to discover that chromosomal loci segregate from midcell with universal dynamics. In the second project, I describe preliminary time- lapse and snapshot imaging analysis suggesting phentoypical coherence across peptidoglycan synthesis pathways.
- Physics