In a chemostat, microbial cells reach a steady state condition at which cell biomass production, substrates and the product concentrations remain constant. These features make continuous culture a unique and powerful tool for biological and physiological research. We present a polymer-based microbioreactor system integrated with optical density (OD), pH, and dissolved oxygen (DO) real-time measurements for continuous cultivation of microbial cells. Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells are continuously cultured in a 150 µL, membrane-aerated, well-mixed microbioreactor fed by a pressure-driven flow of fresh medium through a microchannel. Chemotaxisial back growth of bacterial cells into the medium feed channel is prevented by local heating. Using poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-grafted poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) copolymer films, the inner surfaces of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) of the microbioreactor are modified to generate bio-inert surfaces resistant to non-specific protein adsorption and cell adhesion. The modified surfaces of microbioreactor effectively reduce wall growth of E. coli for a prolonged period of cultivation. Steady state conditions at different dilution rates are demonstrated and characterized by steady OD, pH, and DO levels.
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