A scalable microfluidic chip for bacterial suspension culture†
Microfluidic systems could, in principle, enable high-throughput breeding and screening of microbial strains for industrial applications, but parallel and scalable culture and detection chips are needed before complete microbial selection systems can be integrated and tested. Here we demonstrate a scalable multi-channel chip that is capable of bacterial suspension culture. The key invention is a multi-layered chip design, which enables a single set of control channels to function as serial peristaltic pumps to drive parallel culture chamber loops. Such design leads to scalability of the culture chip. We demonstrate that E. coligrowth in the chip is equivalent or superior to conventional suspension culture on shaking beds. The chip could also be used for suspension culture of other microbes such as Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas stutzeri, and Zymomonas mobilis, indicating its general applicability for bacterial suspension culture.