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(743h) Selectively Permeable Microbial Nanoculture System

Niepa, T. H. R., University of Pennsylvania
Goulian, M., University of Pennsylvania
Koo, H., University of Pennsylvania
Stebe, K. J., University of Pennsylvania
Lee, D., University of Pennsylvania

The advances in the field nanotechnology provide new means for isolating microbes, and replicating their growth conditions in microenvironments to answer new biological questions. For instance, the spatial confinement of bacteria in micropatterns or microcompartments has provided new insights on the inherent advantages of cell clustering in survival mechanisms and drug tolerance. As the worldwide antibiotic crisis persists, novel technologies are emerging to screen for new compounds that could potentially eradicate recalcitrant and multidrug-resistant pathogens. In this study, Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is used to develop a selective microbial nanoculture system allowing the diffusion of only low-molecular weight molecules such as water, antibiotics, signaling molecules and fluorescent dyes. This nanoculture system enables the encapsulation and growth of microbes, the testing of antibiotic susceptibility, the labeling and sorting of the encapsulated bacteria and fungi based on their physiologic properties. The PDMS nanocultures selectivity of small molecules establishes a new tool for investigating interspecies or cross-kingdom interactions in isolated and co-cultures models.  In addition, it facilitates the identification of potential drug candidates among bacteriocins, farnesols, and enzymes secreted by interesting microbes. Thus, the development of such selective and functionalized nanoculture system using PDMS has the potential for studying microbiome dynamics and antagonistic interactions relevant to drug discovery.