In this talk presented by the American Society for Microbiology with Barry Bochner of Biolog, Inc, the hows and whys of analyzing the properties of an organism in its environment or phenotyping, are discussed.
So why should we phenotype cells of microbes? Observing the characteristics of microbes can help researchers understand how those properties might be affected by environmental pressures, genetics and epigenetics. Phenomics is a method for the study of phenotypic characteristics on a high-throughput scale, and is a way for scientists to avoid having to assay microbial colonies one by one, a tedious and inefficient process.
Bochner describes a simple way to assay the myriad complex biochemical pathways that are at work inside of a microbial cell. What seems like an impossible task has been reduced to a colorimetric test that is described in the video. The energy output of cells, growing in wells, is ascertained, with some wells containing inhibitors that can serve as a readout for many different pathways and functions. This phenotyping technology has been used in hundreds of publications over the past decade.
Bochner hopes to see more applications of this technique, such as in the analysis of human cells and in microbiome studies.