Measuring Individual Cell Cyclic Di-GMP: Identifying Population Diversity and Cyclic Di-GMP Heterogeneity

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Cyclic di-GMP is a second messenger used by bacteria to regulate motility, extracellular polysaccharide production, and the cell cycle. Recent advances in the measurement of real time cyclic di-GMP levels in single cells have uncovered significant dynamic heterogeneity of second messenger concentrations within bacterial populations. This heterogeneity results in a wide range of phenotypic outcomes within a single population, providing the potential for population survival and adaptability in response to rapidly changing environments. In this chapter, we discuss some of the measurement technologies available for single-cell measurement of cyclic di-GMP concentrations, the resulting discovery of heterogeneous cyclic di-GMP populations, the mechanisms bacteria use to generate this heterogeneity, and the biochemical and functional consequences of heterogeneity on cyclic di-GMP effector binding and the bacterial population.