Bacteria in groups vary individually, and interact with other bacteria and the environment to produce population-level patterns of gene expression. Investigating such behavior in detail requires measuring and controlling populations at the single-cell level alongside precisely specified interactions and environmental characteristics. Here we present an automated, programmable platform that combines image-based gene expression and growth measurements with on-line optogenetic expression control for hundreds of individual Escherichia coli cells over days, in a dynamically adjustable environment. This integrated platform broadly enables experiments that bridge individual and population behaviors. We demonstrate: (i) population structuring by independent closed-loop control of gene expression in many individual cells, (ii) cell-cell variation control during antibiotic perturbation, (iii) hybrid bio-digital circuits in single cells, and freely specifiable digital communication between individual bacteria. These examples showcase the potential for real-time integration of theoretical models with measurement and control of many individual cells to investigate and engineer microbial population behavior.
We are grateful to M. Lang, H. Janovjak, M. Khammash, A. Milias-Argeitis, M. Rullan, G. Batt, A. Bosma-Moody, Aryan, S. Leibler, and members of the Guet and Tkačik groups for helpful discussion, comments, and suggestions. We thank A. Moglich, T. Mathes, J. Tabor, and S. Schmidl for kind gifts of strains, and R. Hauschild, B. Knep, M. Lang, T. Asenov, E. Papusheva, T. Menner, T. Adletzberger, and J. Merrin for technical assistance. The research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under REA grant agreement no. . (to R.C. and J.R.), Austrian Science Fund grant FWF P28844 (to G.T.), and internal IST Austria Interdisciplinary Project Support. J.R. acknowledges support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) under Grant Nos. ANR-16-CE33-0018 (MEMIP), ANR-16-CE12-0025 (COGEX) and ANR-10-BINF-06-01 (ICEBERG).
Chait RP, Ruess J, Bergmiller T, Tkacik G, Guet CC. Shaping bacterial population behavior through computer interfaced control of individual cells. Nature Communications. 2017;8(1). doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01683-1
Chait, R. P., Ruess, J., Bergmiller, T., Tkacik, G., & Guet, C. C. (2017). Shaping bacterial population behavior through computer interfaced control of individual cells. Nature Communications, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-01683-1
Chait, Remy P, Jakob Ruess, Tobias Bergmiller, Gasper Tkacik, and Calin C Guet. “Shaping Bacterial Population Behavior through Computer Interfaced Control of Individual Cells.” Nature Communications 8, no. 1 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-01683-1.
R. P. Chait, J. Ruess, T. Bergmiller, G. Tkacik, and C. C. Guet, “Shaping bacterial population behavior through computer interfaced control of individual cells,” Nature Communications, vol. 8, no. 1, 2017.
Chait RP, Ruess J, Bergmiller T, Tkacik G, Guet CC. 2017. Shaping bacterial population behavior through computer interfaced control of individual cells. Nature Communications. 8(1), 1535.
Chait, Remy P., et al. “Shaping Bacterial Population Behavior through Computer Interfaced Control of Individual Cells.” Nature Communications, vol. 8, no. 1, 1535, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01683-1.