Ruben’s guest lecture at the 2021 German Cytometry Conference

Computational analysis of microbial flow cytometry data

DGfZ | Microbiology Session | Friday, October, 1st, 2021, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Flow cytometry (FCM) is an important technology for the study of microbial communities. It grants the ability to rapidly generate phenotypic single-cell data that are both quantitative, multivariate and of high temporal resolution. Microbial FCM data have a number of different characteristics and challenges compared to immunophenotyping FCM data. Most prokaryotic cells are much smaller in size and volume than human or mammalian cells, and although most cells are small, the size range within which microbial cells lie is larger than for mammalian cells, covering a range between 0.2 and 500µm. Microbial communities also comprise high levels of phenotypic and phylogenetic complexity (e.g. 1000s of taxa). In this talk, I will provide an overview of common pitfalls of traditional FCM computational techniques on these microbial data, and describe how we can move towards a tailored and reproducible approach for microbial ecology studies. Finally, I will list a number of open challenges to the field and offer further motivation for the use of standardized flow cytometry in microbial ecology research.