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Microbes self-organize in microcolonies while transitioning to a sessile form within a protective biofilm matrix. To enable the detailed study of microbial dynamics within these microcolonies, new sessile culture systems are needed that sequester cells and mimic their complex growth conditions and interactions. We present a new nanoliter-scale sessile culture system that is easily implemented via microfluidics-enabled fabrication. Hundreds of thousands of these nanocultures can be easily generated and imaged using conventional or confocal microscopy. Each nanoculture begins as a several nanoliter droplet of suspended cells, encapsulated by a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) membrane. The PDMS shell provides long-lasting mechanical support, enabling long term study, and is selectively permeable to small molecules including antibiotics, signaling molecules and functional fluorescent probes. Thus, as microcolonies mature within the nanocultures, they can be stressed or interrogated using selected probes to characterize cell physiological properties, antibiotic susceptibilities, and antagonistic interactions. We demonstrate this platform by investigating broad ranges of microcolony dynamics, including direct and indirect bacterial-fungal interactions. This versatile new tool has broad potential for addressing biological questions associated with drug resistance, chronic infections, microbiome dynamics, and antibiotic discovery.
Chemical Engineering, Polymers
Niepa, T. H., Hou, L., Jiang, H., Goulian, M., Koo, H., Stebe, K. J., & Lee, D. (2016). Microbial Nanoculture as an Artificial Microniche. Scientific Reports, 6 1-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep30578
Date Posted: 25 October 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.