– Custom-built label-free (quantitative phase) microscopy. A recently developed microscope and image-analysis pipeline lets us, for the first time, simultaneously measure the mass of single live bacteria and cell shape with unprecedented precision [Oldewurtel et al. bioRxiv 2019 (accepted in PNAS)]. One major goal is to understand how cells coordinate growth of cell shape with growth of biomass to maintain a high degree of intracellular macromolecular crowding. Projects: Improving of the microscope design, combination with additional single-cell investigations/perturbations. Investigation of local heterogeneity of density.
– Single-protein tracking in live cells and statistical analysis of single-enzyme behavior to build physical models of how cells grow and control cell shape [Özbaykal et al. eLife 2020; Vigouroux et al. eLife 2020]. Projects: Microscopy development, single-molecule imaging, image analysis, and physical models for different enzymatic activities that remodel the cell envelope.
– Mechanics of cell shape. We aim to understand the influence of mechanical forces on cell shape [Wong et al. Nature Microbiology 2017]. Project: Mechanical perturbations (e.g. through AFM) and single-enzyme microscopy. Additionally we are interested in the regulation of osmotic pressure, the major determinant of mechanical stresses in the cell envelope.
– Cell-cycle control in terms of coarse-grained physical models that relate cell division to essential cell-cycle processes [Colin et al. bioRxiv 2021]. Microfluidics, single-cell growth, DNA replication, cell division.
– Other projects ranging from noise in gene expression, to turgor pressure, macromolecular crowding, chromosome organization, and metabolism, can be discussed.