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Microfluidic Advancements in Quantitative Microbiology


Microfluidic technologies have allowed modern microbiologists the opportunity to explore biological phenomenon in ground-breaking new ways. The rapid prototyping capability of standard polydimethyl-siloxane (PDMS) microfluidic devices has put the design and optimization of these innovative new tools directly into the hands of the microbiologists who are using them. This has caused a dramatic surge in the utilization of these devices by biological researchers in the past several years. In this dissertation I present original research in which microfluidic technologies were used to advance quantitative microbiology. To provide context, in chapter 1 I highlight several key areas of research and seminal previous works where microfluidic technologies have expanded the horizon for microbial exploration. In the chapters that follow I present 3 separate bodies of original research. In chapter 2 I present a study where a novel synthetic gene oscillator is entrained to environmental oscillations through an engineered fitness advantage. In this particular study, microfluidic devices allowed for the monitoring and quantitative analysis of individual genetically engineered E. coli. In chapter 3 I present a microfluidic platform for quantitatively studying motility phenotypes in arrayed chambers of microorganisms. In chapter 4 I present a microfluidic platform for improved bacterial antibiotic susceptibility testing.

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