A deeper understanding of mycobacterial individuality entails looking at this phenomenon in the fluctuating host environment. Micro-fabrication of host-mimicking platforms (either cell- or tissue-based) by standard photolithography or 3D-printing techniques could allow us to visualize and perturb single-infection events in real-time, aiming to gather dynamic and mechanistic insights of the infection process ex vivo.
An ideal long-term goal is to explore bacterial individuality and tuberculosis complexity by “in vivo imaging” of mice infected with bioluminescent reporters. This technique could provide a broader view into the spatiotemporal dynamics of infection and into the role of different bacterial subpopulations within discrete host niches. Nonetheless, the current technological constraints, such as detection limit, cannot be overlooked.