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Bacteria in Paper, a versatile platform to study bacterial ecology

By Felix JH Hol, George M Whitesides, Cees Dekker

Posted 06 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/464347 (published DOI: 10.1111/ele.13274)

Habitat spatial structure has a profound influence on bacterial life, yet there currently are no low-cost equipment-free laboratory techniques to reproduce the intricate structure of natural bacterial habitats. Here, we demonstrate the use of paper scaffolds to create landscapes spatially structured at the scales relevant to bacterial ecology. In paper scaffolds, planktonic bacteria migrate through liquid filled pores, while the paper's cellulose fibers serve as anchor points for sessile colonies (biofilms). Using this novel approach we explore bacterial colonization dynamics in different landscape topographies, and characterize the community composition of Escherichia coli strains undergoing centimeter-scale range expansions in habitats structured at the micrometer scale. The bacteria-in-paper platform enables quantitative assessment of bacterial community dynamics in complex environments using everyday materials.

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