Microbiology

Microbe Trapping

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Science  29 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6004, pp. 561
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6004.561-c
CREDIT: JODI L. CONNELL

Bacteria often exhibit distinct behaviors when in a group. In order to better study these behaviors, Connell et al. manufactured tiny, 2- to 6-picoliter chambers out of bovine serum albumin covalently cross-linked by laser lithography into permeable three-dimensional structures. After trapping single bacterial cells in the chambers (bacteria, in green, shown inside trap above), clonal growth was observed. Captive Pseudomonas bacteria grew at rates comparable to those seen in conventional culture and in the mouse lung, because nutrients and other small molecules could freely enter and exit the chambers. This system was applied to experiments on quorum sensing and antibiotic resistance, and coupled with new sequencing technologies could be envisaged to add an interesting dimension to experimentation probing early phases of infection and biofilm formation.

mBio 1, e00202 (2010).

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