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Journal ArticleDOI

Microfluidics Expanding the Frontiers of Microbial Ecology

04 Jun 2014-Annual Review of Biophysics (NIH Public Access)-Vol. 43, Iss: 1, pp 65-91
TL;DR: A review of applications of microfluidics that have resulted in insightful discoveries on fundamental aspects of microbial life, ranging from growth and sensing to cell-cell interactions and population dynamics can be found in this article.
Abstract: Microfluidics has significantly contributed to the expansion of the frontiers of microbial ecology over the past decade by allowing researchers to observe the behaviors of microbes in highly controlled microenvironments, across scales from a single cell to mixed communities. Spatially and temporally varying distributions of organisms and chemical cues that mimic natural microbial habitats can now be established by exploiting physics at the micrometer scale and by incorporating structures with specific geometries and materials. In this article, we review applications of microfluidics that have resulted in insightful discoveries on fundamental aspects of microbial life, ranging from growth and sensing to cell-cell interactions and population dynamics. We anticipate that this flexible multidisciplinary technology will continue to facilitate discoveries regarding the ecology of microorganisms and help uncover strategies to control microbial processes such as biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance.

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Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: How the spatial arrangement of genotypes within a community influences the cooperative and competitive cell–cell interactions that define biofilm form and function is discussed.
Abstract: Bacteria often live within matrix-embedded communities, termed biofilms, which are now understood to be a major mode of microbial life. The study of biofilms has revealed their vast complexity both in terms of resident species composition and phenotypic diversity. Despite this complexity, theoretical and experimental work in the past decade has identified common principles for understanding microbial biofilms. In this Review, we discuss how the spatial arrangement of genotypes within a community influences the cooperative and competitive cell-cell interactions that define biofilm form and function. Furthermore, we argue that a perspective rooted in ecology and evolution is fundamental to progress in microbiology.

699 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This Review focuses on how quorums are detected and how quorum sensing controls group behaviours in complex and dynamically changing environments such as multi-species bacterial communities, in the presence of flow, in 3D non-uniform biofilms and in hosts during infection.
Abstract: Quorum sensing is a process of bacterial cell-to-cell chemical communication that relies on the production, detection and response to extracellular signalling molecules called autoinducers. Quorum sensing allows groups of bacteria to synchronously alter behaviour in response to changes in the population density and species composition of the vicinal community. Quorum-sensing-mediated communication is now understood to be the norm in the bacterial world. Elegant research has defined quorum-sensing components and their interactions, for the most part, under ideal and highly controlled conditions. Indeed, these seminal studies laid the foundations for the field. In this Review, we highlight new findings concerning how bacteria deploy quorum sensing in realistic scenarios that mimic nature. We focus on how quorums are detected and how quorum sensing controls group behaviours in complex and dynamically changing environments such as multi-species bacterial communities, in the presence of flow, in 3D non-uniform biofilms and in hosts during infection.

566 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Baohong Wang1, Mingfei Yao1, Longxian Lv1, Zongxin Ling1, Lanjuan Li1 
TL;DR: This paper focuses on the interactions between the human microbiota and the host in order to provide an overview of the microbial role in basic biological processes and in the development and progression of major human diseases such as infectious diseases, liver diseases, gastrointestinal cancers, metabolic diseases, respiratory diseases, mental or psychological diseases, and autoimmune diseases.

497 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This review covers how bacterial competition influences the structures of bacterial communities and argues that the integration of multiple approaches will be instrumental to future understanding of the underlying dynamics ofacterial communities.
Abstract: In the environment, bacteria live in complex multispecies communities. These communities span in scale from small, multicellular aggregates to billions or trillions of cells within the gastrointestinal tract of animals. The dynamics of bacterial communities are determined by pairwise interactions that occur between different species in the community. Though interactions occur between a few cells at a time, the outcomes of these interchanges have ramifications that ripple through many orders of magnitude, and ultimately affect the macroscopic world including the health of host organisms. In this review we cover how bacterial competition influences the structures of bacterial communities. We also emphasize methods and insights garnered from culture-dependent pairwise interaction studies, metagenomic analyses, and modeling experiments. Finally, we argue that the integration of multiple approaches will be instrumental to future understanding of the underlying dynamics of bacterial communities.

426 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
21 May 2015-Cell
TL;DR: The effects of mechanics on bacterial behaviors on surfaces at multiple length scales are highlighted, from single bacteria to the development of multicellular bacterial communities such as biofilms.

411 citations

References
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Journal ArticleDOI
27 Jul 2006-Nature
TL;DR: The manipulation of fluids in channels with dimensions of tens of micrometres — microfluidics — has emerged as a distinct new field that has the potential to influence subject areas from chemical synthesis and biological analysis to optics and information technology.
Abstract: The manipulation of fluids in channels with dimensions of tens of micrometres--microfluidics--has emerged as a distinct new field. Microfluidics has the potential to influence subject areas from chemical synthesis and biological analysis to optics and information technology. But the field is still at an early stage of development. Even as the basic science and technological demonstrations develop, other problems must be addressed: choosing and focusing on initial applications, and developing strategies to complete the cycle of development, including commercialization. The solutions to these problems will require imagination and ingenuity.

8,260 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
20 Jan 2000-Nature
TL;DR: This work used three transcriptional repressor systems that are not part of any natural biological clock to build an oscillating network, termed the repressilator, in Escherichia coli, which periodically induces the synthesis of green fluorescent protein as a readout of its state in individual cells.
Abstract: Networks of interacting biomolecules carry out many essential functions in living cells, but the 'design principles' underlying the functioning of such intracellular networks remain poorly understood, despite intensive efforts including quantitative analysis of relatively simple systems Here we present a complementary approach to this problem: the design and construction of a synthetic network to implement a particular function We used three transcriptional repressor systems that are not part of any natural biological clock to build an oscillating network, termed the repressilator, in Escherichia coli The network periodically induces the synthesis of green fluorescent protein as a readout of its state in individual cells The resulting oscillations, with typical periods of hours, are slower than the cell-division cycle, so the state of the oscillator has to be transmitted from generation to generation This artificial clock displays noisy behaviour, possibly because of stochastic fluctuations of its components Such 'rational network design may lead both to the engineering of new cellular behaviours and to an improved understanding of naturally occurring networks

4,488 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
10 Sep 2004-Science
TL;DR: Investigating the persistence of single cells of Escherichia coli with the use of microfluidic devices found phenotypic switching occurred between normally growing cells and persister cells having reduced growth rates, leading to a simple mathematical description of the persistence switch.
Abstract: A fraction of a genetically homogeneous microbial population may survive exposure to stress such as antibiotic treatment. Unlike resistant mutants, cells regrown from such persistent bacteria remain sensitive to the antibiotic. We investigated the persistence of single cells of Escherichia coli with the use of microfluidic devices. Persistence was linked to preexisting heterogeneity in bacterial populations because phenotypic switching occurred between normally growing cells and persister cells having reduced growth rates. Quantitative measurements led to a simple mathematical description of the persistence switch. Inherent heterogeneity of bacterial populations may be important in adaptation to fluctuating environments and in the persistence of bacterial infections.

2,599 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This gut-on-a-chip recapitulates multiple dynamic physical and functional features of human intestine that are critical for its function within a controlled microfluidic environment that is amenable for transport, absorption, and toxicity studies, and hence it should have great value for drug testing as well as development of novel intestinal disease models.
Abstract: Development of an in vitro living cell-based model of the intestine that mimics the mechanical, structural, absorptive, transport and pathophysiological properties of the human gut along with its crucial microbial symbionts could accelerate pharmaceutical development, and potentially replace animal testing. Here, we describe a biomimetic ‘human gut-on-a-chip’ microdevice composed of two microfluidic channels separated by a porous flexible membrane coated with extracellular matrix (ECM) and lined by human intestinal epithelial (Caco-2) cells that mimics the complex structure and physiology of living intestine. The gut microenvironment is recreated by flowing fluid at a low rate (30 μL h−1) producing low shear stress (0.02 dyne cm−2) over the microchannels, and by exerting cyclic strain (10%; 0.15 Hz) that mimics physiological peristaltic motions. Under these conditions, a columnar epithelium develops that polarizes rapidly, spontaneously grows into folds that recapitulate the structure of intestinal villi, and forms a high integrity barrier to small molecules that better mimics whole intestine than cells in cultured in static Transwell models. In addition, a normal intestinal microbe (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) can be successfully co-cultured for extended periods (>1 week) on the luminal surface of the cultured epithelium without compromising epithelial cell viability, and this actually improves barrier function as previously observed in humans. Thus, this gut-on-a-chip recapitulates multiple dynamic physical and functional features of human intestine that are critical for its function within a controlled microfluidic environment that is amenable for transport, absorption, and toxicity studies, and hence it should have great value for drug testing as well as development of novel intestinal disease models.

1,247 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
21 Jan 2010-Nature
TL;DR: An engineered gene network with global intercellular coupling that is capable of generating synchronized oscillations in a growing population of cells is described and computational modelling is used to describe quantitatively the observed dependence of the period and amplitude of the bulk oscillations on the flow rate.
Abstract: The engineering of genetic circuits with predictive functionality in living cells represents a defining focus of the expanding field of synthetic biology. This focus was elegantly set in motion a decade ago with the design and construction of a genetic toggle switch and an oscillator, with subsequent highlights that have included circuits capable of pattern generation, noise shaping, edge detection and event counting. Here we describe an engineered gene network with global intercellular coupling that is capable of generating synchronized oscillations in a growing population of cells. Using microfluidic devices tailored for cellular populations at differing length scales, we investigate the collective synchronization properties along with spatiotemporal waves occurring at millimetre scales. We use computational modelling to describe quantitatively the observed dependence of the period and amplitude of the bulk oscillations on the flow rate. The synchronized genetic clock sets the stage for the use of microbes in the creation of a macroscopic biosensor with an oscillatory output. Furthermore, it provides a specific model system for the generation of a mechanistic description of emergent coordinated behaviour at the colony level.

1,027 citations