Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer).
It is unclear how Gram-positive bacteria, with a thick cell wall, can release membrane vesicles. Here, Toyofuku et al. show that a prophage-encoded endolysin can generate holes in the cell wall through which cytoplasmic membrane material protrudes and is released as vesicles.
Protein-synthesizing bacterial and archaeal cells can now be visualized by an adaptation of the BONCAT method, and sorted from complex samples for sequencing. A demonstration on the uncultivated, slow-growing methane-oxidizing consortia shows the high potential of this new method.