Breaking the population barrier by single cell analysis: one host against one pathogen

Erez Mills, Roi Avraham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Most of our understanding of the host–bacterium interaction has come from studies of bulk populations. In reality, highly adaptable and dynamic host cells and bacteria engage in complex, diverse interactions. This complexity necessarily limits the depth of understanding that can be gained with bulk population measurements. Here, we will review the merit of single cell analysis to characterize this diversity that can trigger heterogeneous outcomes. We will discuss heterogeneity of bacterial and host populations, differences in host microenvironments, technological advances that facilitate the analysis of rare subpopulations, and the potential relevance of these subpopulations to infection outcomes. We focus our discussion on intracellular bacterial pathogens and on methods that characterize and quantify RNA in single cells, aiming to highlight how novel methodologies have the potential to characterize the multidimensional process of infection and to provide answers to some of the most fundamental questions in the field.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


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