Counting Chromosomes in Individual Bacteria to Quantify Their Impacts on Persistence

Allison M. Murawski, Katherine Rittenbach, Christina J. DeCoste, Gary Laevsky, Mark P. Brynildsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Persisters are phenotypic variants within bacterial populations that tolerate antibiotic treatments considerably better than the majority of cells. A phenotypic quality that varies within bacterial populations is the chromosome number of individual cells. One, two, four, or more chromosomes per cell have been observed previously, and the impact of genome copy number can range from gene dosage effects to an inability to perform specific DNA repair functions, such as homologous recombination. We hypothesize that chromosome abundance is an underappreciated phenotypic variable that could impact persistence to antibiotics. Here, we describe methodologies to segregate bacterial populations based on chromosome number, assess the purity of those subpopulations, and suggest assays that could be used to quantify the impacts of genome abundance on persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


  • Chromosomes
  • FACS
  • Heterotolerance
  • Homologous recombination
  • Persistence
  • Ploidy


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