Controlled communication between physically separated bacterial populations in a microfluidic device

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The engineering of microbial systems increasingly strives to achieve a co-existence and co-functioning of different populations. By creating interactions, one can utilize combinations of cells where each population has a specialized function, such as regulation or sharing of metabolic burden. Here we describe a microfluidic system that enables long-term and independent growth of fixed and distinctly separate microbial populations, while allowing communication through a thin nano-cellulose filter. Using quorum-sensing signaling, we can couple the populations and show that this leads to a rapid and stable connection over long periods of time. We continue to show that this control over communication can be utilized to drive nonlinear responses. The coupling of separate populations, standardized interaction, and context-independent function lay the foundation for the construction of increasingly complex community-wide dynamic genetic regulatory mechanisms.


Original languageEnglish
Article number97
JournalCommunications Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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