New technologies: methods and applications

The study of microbiology is undergoing a renaissance owing to the development and application of a diverse range of new technologies. A little more than a decade ago, the visualization of fundamental subcellular structures and processes was almost impossible; now, following the successful marriage of biophysics and microbiology, the number of single-molecule studies in living cells is growing at a rapid pace. Increasingly sophisticated sequencing approaches, coupled with improved analytical and computational tools, allow us to rapidly indentify pathogens, track infectious disease outbreaks and identify links between microorganisms and disease. Furthermore, innovative micro-scale engineering has facilitated the simulation of microbial environments with remarkable precision and has opened the door to understanding microbial heterogeneity at an unprecedented level of detail. In this series of articles, Nature Reviews Microbiology explores some of the most recent technological developments and their applications, highlighting the ways in which this powerful toolkit is changing the face of modern-day microbiology.

Laser beams and gears