Real-time chemical imaging of bacterial activities can facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of biofilm structures and functions. Synchrotron-radiation-based Fourier transform infrared (SR-FTIR) spectromicroscopy can yield high spatial resolution and label-free vibrational signatures of chemical bonds in biomolecules, but the abundance of water in biofilms has hindered SRFTIR's sensitivity in investigating bacterial activity. We developed a simple open-channel microfluidic system that can circumvent the water-absorption barrier for chemical imaging of the developmental dynamics of bacterial biofilms with a spatial resolution of several micrometers. This system maintains a 10 μm thick laminar-flow-through biofilm system that minimizes both the imaging volume in liquid and the signal interference from geometry-induced fringing. Here we demonstrate the ability of the open-channel microfluidic platform to maintain the functionality of living cells while enabling high-quality SR-FTIR measurements. We include several applications that show how microbes in biofilms adapt to their immediate environments. The ability to directly monitor and map bacterial changes in biofilms can yield significant insight into a wide range of microbial systems, especially when coupled to more sophisticated microfluidic platforms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry