In a collaborative effort between the universities of Amsterdam and Antwerp, the groups of professor Stanley Brul and dr Erik Manders published an Applied and Environmental Microbiology paper that was elevated to ‘spotlight’ status. The SILS-scientist have developed a robust method to quantify intracellular pH at single-cell levels in Bacillus subtilis.
Heterogeneity in isogenic populations of microbial cells is a phenomenon that has gained more and more attention in fundamental studies of contemporary microbiology. In particular, the behaviour of bacterial spore formers is of significant applied interest due to their stress resistance and role in health and disease. Pandey et al. open up the possibility of studying in Bacillus subtilis, the model organism for bacterial spore formers, the homeostasis of intracellular pH (pHi) both under control conditions and upon exposure to weak organic acid food preservatives at single cell resolution. Their laboratory and others have shown that pHi is a key indicator of cellular growth capacity.