Capture and culturing of single microalgae cells, and retrieval of colonies using a perforated hemispherical microwell structure
A perforated hemispherical microwell structure is shown to efficiently capture single Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (C. reinhardtii) cells, culture them to form colonies, and retrieve these colonies to serve as seeds for large-scale cultivation. This solution-phase formation and recovery of colonies could overcome the tedious and time-consuming process of selecting colonies from a solid-phase agar plate. The fabricated microdevice was composed of three layers: a top layer consisting of a cell solution for injection and recovery of a microalgal solution, a hemispherical perforated microwell array in the middle, and a bottom layer in which the solution is manipulated by controlling the hydrodynamic force. The microalgal (wild type and hygromycin B-resistant mutant) cells loaded in the top layer rapidly diffused into the microwell holes, and individual such cells were captured with high efficiency (>90%) and within 1 min by applying a withdraw mode in the bottom layer. Single-cell-based cultivation in a medium containing hygromycin B was then performed to generate colonies in the hemispherical microwell. While the wild type cells died, mutant cells resistant to hygromycin B survived well and grew into a colony within 2 days. The produced colonies in the microwells were recovered by applying a release mode in the bottom layer, so that a hydrodynamic force was exerted vertically to push out the colonies through the outlet in 10 s. The recovered cells were cultured on a large scale in medium by using a flask. The recovered C. reinhardtii was confirmed as a hygromycin B-resistant mutant by identifying the hygromycin gene in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The microdevice described here could in solution perform single-cell capture, colony formation, and retrieval of colonies for further large-scale cultivation, which could replace tedious and time-consuming solid-phase agar plate processes with a 7-fold reduction in the duration of the process.