Micro- and nanotechnology offer tools that enable new approaches in microbiology and biotechnology. With microfluidic technologies we are able to manipulate liquids in a precise, well-controlled manner in microscopic dimensions. A microfluidic setup for studying interacting bacterial populations is presented in this work. Bacterial cultures were grown in a device within distinct microchambers and channels that are separated by porous membranes. This membrane acts as a physical boundary for the populations in each chamber, nevertheless it enables chemical coupling between them. The free diffusional transport of nutrients and secreted products throughout the microfluidic chip results in a chemical anisotropy within the bacterial microhabitats. Such heterogeneities affect the development and spatial distribution of the cell populations. We observed attractive and repulsive interactions between the bacterial populations and showed that chemotaxis and likely intercellular signaling play a fundamental role in these phenomena. Our results show that at population level biochemical interactions have to be considered when using microreactors or microchambers to culture bacteria.
- Bacterial communication
- Cell motility
- Microbial interaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Process Chemistry and Technology