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Chemical tools to design and study microbial communities


Techniques for the design and study of microbial cocultures may enable the development of bioproductions from more sustainable feedstocks. Furthermore, designed microbial communities could enable insights into a variety of fields including environmental bioremediation, microbial bioproductions or the microbiome. Each chapter of this dissertation describes the development of microbial cocultures or chemical tools to study microbial cocultures. In Chapter One, the development of a microbial coculture where one partner ensnares the other in a secreted biopolymer is described and characterized. In Chapter Two, a microbial coculture that produces the bioplastic polyhydroxybutyrate with no fixed carbon or nitrogen inputs is described. A strategy to improve the performance of this coculture using a spatially-constrained hydrogel is also discussed. Chapter Three delves into various strategies that have been developed to pattern microbes via DNA-based hybridization. This includes the description of a new oxidative coupling strategy that has been developed to pattern DNA on surfaces and its application towards the study of specific microbes and microbial communities.

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