Flow cytometry is a technique which permits the characterisation of individual cells in populations, in terms of distributions in their properties such as DNA content, protein content, viability, enzyme activities and so on. We review the technique, and some of its recent applications to microbiological problems. It is concluded that cellular heterogeneity, in both batch and continuous axenic cultures, is far greater than is normally assumed. This has important implications for the quantitative analysis of microbial processes.
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