(210d) Structuring Microbial Biofilms with 3D Printing

Authors: 
Abbasi, R., Montana State University
Wilking, J., Montana State University
Most micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and archaea, exist in surface-adherent, multicellular communities known as “biofilms”. These films exhibit enhanced antibiotic resistance and reduced clearance by the immune system and are implicated in a wide variety of medical issues, including hospital-acquired and biomedical implant infections. Biofilm formation and virulence is largely governed by cell-to-cell communication, which is strongly influenced by community structure. However, structure-communication relationships remain poorly understood, and there is a need for technologies that provide well-defined spatial control over microbial structures. Here, we will present a light-based 3D printing platform for structuring bacteria in a biocompatible hydrogel. To explore the impact of spatial location on complex microbial interactions in biofilms, we print biomedically-relevant bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa and follow their time-dependent behavior using confocal microscopy. We find that microorganisms in the 3D printed structures exhibit complex and unexpected dynamics. Knowledge gained from these experiments can be used to optimize structure-function relationships and may inform new strategies for biofilm disruption.

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