Visualising stress responses, DNA repair, and mutagenesis at the single-molecule level in bacteria
Bacteria have a remarkable capacity to thrive in adverse environments. Their adaptability relies on stress responses that provide temporary protection, for example by repairing cell damage or removing toxic chemicals. Such phenotypic adaptation offers cells a window of opportunity to evolve permanent stress resistance through genetic change. The aim of our research is to understand how this works at the molecular level using a quantitative interdisciplinary approach. We study the mechanisms of DNA repair and mutagenesis, which are essential both for stress survival and for genetic change. A key aspect of our research is developing fluorescence microscopy techniques to visualise molecular events in real-time within living cells. We use super-resolution microscopy and single-molecule tracking to record the movement of individual molecules such as DNA repair enzymes or transcription factors. We link these observations with real-time monitoring of stress responses in microfluidic devices. This allows us to decipher how molecular events inside cells determine long-term cell fates.