Mixing it up with E. coli

January 15, 2007

Poetry in motion may seem like an odd way to describe swimming bacteria, but that's what researchers at Drexel University got when they enlisted Escherichia coli (E. coli) in an effort to tackle a major problem in developing lab-on-a-chip technology.

In a report scheduled for the Feb. 1 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal, Min Jun Kim and Kenneth S. Breuer describe using E. coli to stir and enhance mixing in a controlled fashion in a microchannel. Blood and other medical samples may flow through such channels for analysis in future miniature laboratories etched on silicon chips.

The researchers note, however, that getting those fluids to mix with chemicals in clinical tests and flow poses huge challenges because of difficulties in fabricating tiny pumps.

Researchers thus are exploring biological motors, such as the spinning flagella that E. coli and other bacteria use to swim through fluids. In their experiments, Kim and Breuer harnessed the motion of E. coli flagella to achieve mixing in a fluid. The random motion of the micron-sized bacteria was used to enhance fluid mixing, and by adding chemical stimulants, the researchers were able to control both the direction and the magnitude of the stirring.

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Conflict or coexistence

Related Stories

Conflict or coexistence

May 3, 2017

Competition within mixed bacterial populations can give rise to complex growth dynamics. LMU researchers are probing the interplay between differential growth rates and stochastic factors in determining the composition of ...

Creating materials in a novel way by 3-D printing bacteria

March 24, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at Delft University of Technology has developed a means for 3-D printing a gel containing bacteria onto a base to create materials in a novel way. In their paper published in the journal ...

Microbiome diversity is influenced by chance encounters

March 3, 2017

Within the human digestive tract, there are trillions of bacteria, and these communities contain hundreds or even thousands of species. The makeup of those populations can vary greatly from one person to another, depending ...

The life-saving treatment that's being thrown in the trash

March 28, 2017

A few hours before beginning chemotherapy, a man named Chris faces his cellphone camera with a mischievous smile and describes a perfectly absurd milestone at 1.37pm on a Wednesday. "There is no more beautiful moment in a ...

Recommended for you

New antibiotic packs a punch against bacterial resistance

May 29, 2017

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have given new superpowers to a lifesaving antibiotic called vancomycin, an advance that could eliminate the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections for years to come. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.