Rapid separation of bacteria from primary nasal samples using inertial microfluidics†
Microbial populations play a crucial role in human health and the development of many diseases. These diseases often arise from the explosive proliferation of opportunistic bacteria, such as those in the nasal cavity. Recently, there have been increases in the prevalence of these opportunistic pathogens displaying antibiotic resistance. Thus, the study of the nasal microbiota and its bacterial diversity is critical in understanding pathogenesis and developing microbial-based therapies for well-known and emerging diseases. However, the isolation and analysis of these populations for clinical study complicates the already challenging task of identifying and profiling potentially harmful bacteria. Existing methods are limited by low sample throughput, expensive labeling, and low recovery of bacteria with ineffective removal of cells and debris. In this study, we propose a novel microfluidic channel with a zigzag configuration for enhanced isolation and detection of bacteria from human clinical nasal swabs. This microfluidic zigzag channel separates the bacteria from epithelial cells and debris by size differential focusing. As such, pure bacterial cell fractions devoid of large contaminating debris or epithelial cells are obtained. DNA sequencing performed on the separated bacteria defines the diversity and species present. This novel method of bacterial separation is simple, robust, rapid, and cost-effective and has the potential to be used for the rapid identification of bacterial cell populations from clinical samples.