Multi-generational Analysis and Manipulation of Chromosomes in a Polyploid Cyanobacterium

Kristin A. Moore, Jian Wei Tay, and Jeffrey C. Cameron


Faithful inheritance of genetic material from one generation to the next is an essential process for all life on earth. Much of what is known about microbial DNA replication and inheritance has been learned from a small number of bacterial species that share many common traits. Whether these pathways are conserved across the great diversity of the microbiome remains unclear. To address this question, we studied chromosome dynamics in a polyploid photosynthetic bacteria using single cell, time-lapse microscopy over multi-generation lineages in conjunction with inducible CRISPR-interference and fluorescent chromosome labeling. With this method we demonstrated the long-term consequences of manipulating parameters such as cell growth, cell division, and DNA replication and segregation on chromosome regulation in a polyploid bacterial species. We find that these bacteria are surprisingly resilient to chromosome disruption resulting in continued cell growth when DNA replication is inhibited and even in the complete absence of chromosomes.