Single-cell metabolomics reveals the metabolic heterogeneity among microbial cells [article]

Xuanlin Meng, Fei Tao, Ping Xu
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
In microbial research, the heterogeneity phenomenon is closely associated with microbial physiology in multiple dimensions. For now, A few studies were proposed in transcriptome and proteome analysis to discover the heterogeneity among single cells. However, microbial single cell metabolomics has not been possible yet. Herein, we developed a method, RespectM, based on discontinuous mass spectrometry imaging, which can detect more than 700 metabolites at a rate of 500 cells per hour. While
more » ... ng the high throughput of RespectM, it integrates matrix sublimation, QC-based peak filtering, and batch correction strategies to improve accuracy. The results show that RespectM can distinguish single microbial cells from the blank matrix with an accuracy of 98.4%, depending on classification algorithms. Furthermore, to verify the accuracy of RespectM for distinguishing different single cells, we performed a classification test on Chlamydomonas reinhardtii single cells among allelic strains. The results showed an accuracy of 93.1%, which provides RespectM with enough confidence to perform microbial single cell metabolomics analysis. As we expected, untreated microbial cells will spontaneously undergo metabolic grouping coherence with genetic and biochemical similarities. Interestingly, the pseudo-time analysis also provided intuitive evidence on the metabolic dimension, indicating the cell grouping is based on microbial population heterogeneity. We believe that the RespectM can offer a powerful tool in the microbial study. Researchers can now directly analyze the changes in microbial metabolism at a single-cell level with high efficiency.
doi:10.1101/2021.11.08.467686 fatcat:z76kboynkvd5lfjo5s5smj7tcm