High-Throughput Phenotyping and Continuous Evolution Systems
Investigator: Adam Abate, PhD
Sponsor: University of Texas at Austin
Location(s): United States
Engineering synthetic consortia of microorganisms is a new frontier for synthetic biology. Assembling synthetic communities will enable parallelized engineering and opens up the door to applications such as a synthetic human microbiome. Understanding design principles of microbial interactions will help engineer community-based microbial factories where different production steps are distributed between different members of the community. To understand how communities develop, evolve and interact, a quantitative approach is needed to study how small numbers of microbes develop into full consortia. This necessitates a method for isolating controlled numbers of microbial cells in individual vessels, and tracking how these synthetic consortia develop over time. In addition, it must be sufficiently high throughput to enable large numbers of these trials to be analyzed.This research represents an effort in developing a droplet-based microfluidic system to encapsulate and study microbial populations. By precisely controlling cell numbers, genetic background, composition of the micro-environment and the population, we aim to measure microbial community assembly quantitatively and on a physiologically relevant scale.