High-throughput screening of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in picodroplets†
The prevalence of clinically-relevant bacterial strains resistant to current antibiotic therapies is increasing and has been recognized as a major health threat. For example, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus are of global concern. Novel methodologies are needed to identify new targets or novel compounds unaffected by pre-existing resistance mechanisms. Recently, water-in-oil picodroplets have been used as an alternative to conventional high-throughput methods, especially for phenotypic screening. Here we demonstrate a novel microfluidic-based picodroplet platform which enables high-throughput assessment and isolation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a label-free manner. As a proof-of-concept, the system was used to isolate fusidic acid-resistant mutants and estimate the frequency of resistance among a population of Escherichia coli (strain HS151). This approach can be used for rapid screening of rare antibiotic-resistant mutants to help identify novel compound/target pairs.