Cultural Riches

Researchers devise new techniques to facilitate growing bacteria collected from the environment.

By Anna Azvolinsky | October 1, 2015

New devices that physically separate bacterial cells—giving slower-growing species a fighting chance—but still allow the cells to communicate could be key to helping researchers culture previously ungrowable strains. 

iCHIP: A multiwell diffusion chamber separates individual bacterial cells in the wells of a 384-well plate. A breathable membrane surrounding the plate allows interaction with the natural environment, such as soil or ocean water, and sensing of the multitudes of molecular factors produced by neighboring bacteria.

© AL GRANBERGMICRODROPLET-MICROCOLONY FORMATION: A device traps individual bacteria inside tiny, permeable gel droplets, which allow interactions among bacteria while keeping them separate. The droplets are bathed in a nutrient-rich media until a microcolony of 40–200 cells forms inside, then sorted and plated for further analysis.

© AL GRANBERG

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