the Tans Biophysics LabAMOLF, Amsterdam

Group members associated:

  • Noreen Walker
  • Martijn Wehrens
  • Ferhat Buke

Stochasticity in gene expression and in other cellular components results in substantial variation within clonal cell populations. Such variation has been speculated to be advantageous in fluctuating environments, where it allows subsets of a population to be well-adapted to unpredictable changes in environment. In a constant environment, however, variation would result in cells being non-optimal.

We investigate what the effect of noise in gene expression is on fitness in a constant environment. We address this issue by means of time-lapse microscopy on individual E. coli cells.

(Left to right: Phase Contrast, Fluorescence, Segmentation. Larger Version)

We also look at the effect of noise in the situation where cells need to adapt to a new environment.

Recent research includes the investigation of type 1 fimbrial switching in E. Coli using single-cell time-lapse microscopy.

Research highlights:

  • "Stochasticity of metabolism and growth at the single-cell level" - Nature (2014)
  • "Single-cell dynamics reveals sustained growth during diauxic shifts" - PLoS One 8, e61686 1-9 (2013)
  • "Direct observation of type 1 fimbrial switching" - EMBO Reports 10:527-532 (2009)