One of the physiological responses of bacteria to external stress is to assemble into a biofilm. The formation of a biofilm greatly increases a bacterial population's resistance to a hostile environment by shielding cells, for example, from antibiotics. In this paper, we describe the conditions necessary for the emergence of biofilms in natural environments and relate them to the emergence of biofilm formation inside microfluidic devices. We show that competing species of Escherichia coli bacteria form biofilms to spatially segregate themselves in response to starvation stress, and use in situ methods to characterize the physical properties of the biofilms. Finally, we develop a microfluidic platform to study the inter-species interactions and show how biofilm-mediated genetic interactions can improve a species' resistance to external stress.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)