Publications Repository - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

1 Publication

High-Throughput Gel Microbeads as Incubators for Bacterial Competition Study

Nguyen Le, T. A.; Zhao, X.; Bachmann, M.; Ruelens, P.; de Visser, J. A. G. M.; Baraban, L.


Bacteria primarily live in structured environments, such as colonies and biofilms, attached to surfaces or growing within soft tissues. They are engaged in local competitive and cooperative interactions impacting our health and well-being, for example, by affecting population-level drug resistance. Our knowledge of bacterial competition and cooperation within soft matrices is in-complete, partly because we lack high-throughput tools to quantitatively study their interactions. Here, we introduce a method to generate a large amount of agarose microbeads that mimic the natural culture conditions experienced by bacteria to co-encapsulate two strains of fluores-cence-labeled Escherichia coli. Focusing specifically on low bacterial inoculum (1–100 cells/capsule), we demonstrate a study on the formation of colonies of both strains within these 3D scaffolds and follow their growth kinetics and interaction using fluorescence microscopy in highly replicated experiments. We confirmed that the average final colony size is inversely proportional to the inoculum size in this semi-solid environment as a result of limited available resources. Further-more, the colony shape and fluorescence intensity per colony are distinctly different in mono-culture and co-culture. The experimental observations in mono- and co-culture are compared with predictions from a simple growth model. We suggest that our high throughput and small foot-print microbead system is an excellent platform for future investigation of competitive and co-operative interactions in bacterial communities under diverse conditions, including antibiotics stress.

Keywords: millifluidic; high-throughput; agarose microbeads; co-culture; bacterial co-existence; fluorescence



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