Projects on the physical biology of bacteria

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.

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