Advanced Science

Microfluidic Giant Polymer Vesicles Equipped with Biopores for High-Throughput Screening of Bacteria

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Understanding the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance is critical for the development of new therapeutics. Traditional methods for testing bacteria are often limited in their efficiency and reusability. Single bacterial cells can be studied at high throughput using double emulsions although the lack of control over the oil shell permeability and limited access to the droplet interior present serious drawbacks. Here, we introduce a straightforward strategy for studying bacteria-encapsulating double emulsion-templated giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). This microfluidic approach serves to simultaneously load bacteria inside synthetic GUVs and to permeabilize their membrane with the pore-forming peptide melittin. This enables antibiotic delivery or the influx of fresh medium into the GUV lumen for highly parallel cultivation and antimicrobial efficacy testing. Polymer-based GUVs proved to be efficient culture and analysis microvessels as microfluidics allow easy selection and encapsulation of bacteria and rapid modification of culture conditions for antibiotic development. Further, a method for in situ profiling of biofilms within GUVs for high-throughput screening is demonstrated. Conceivably, synthetic GUVs equipped with biopores can serve as a foundation for high-throughput screening of bacterial colony interactions during biofilm formation and for investigating the effect of antibiotics on biofilms.