Single-cell genomics (SCG) methods provide a unique opportunity to analyse whole genome information at the resolution of an individual cell. While SCG has been extensively used to investigate bacterial and archaeal genomes, the technique has been rarely used to access the genetic makeup of uncultivated microbial eukaryotes. In this regard, the use of SCG can provide a wealth of information; not only do the methods allow exploration of the genome, they can also help elucidate the relationship between the cell and intracellular entities extant in nearly all eukaryotes. SCG enables the study of total eukaryotic cellular DNA, which in turn allows us to better understand the evolutionary history and diversity of life, and the physiological interactions that define complex organisms. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue ‘Single cell ecology’.