Functional role of non-genetic variability
Throughout biology isogenic cell populations exhibit phenotypic diversity and collective behavior. These properties complicate the treatment of diseases and our mechanistic understanding of biology because they give rise to emergent behaviors that are not directly predicted from the structures and functions of proteins.
One of our major goals is to understand how phenotypic heterogeneity in isogenic populations affects complex functions such as chemical sensing, adaptation, motility; and how the balance between phenotypic heterogeneity and collective behavior shapes population performance. How do we quantify individual cell performance and trace it back to molecules? What is the origin of cell-to-cell differences in performances? To what extend such variability is under selection? How does the shape of such distribution affects population success?