Droplet-based high-throughput cultivation for accurate screening of antibiotic resistant gut microbes
Traditional cultivation approaches in microbiology are labor-intensive, low-throughput, and yield biased sampling of environmental microbes due to ecological and evolutionary factors. New strategies are needed for ample representation of rare taxa and slow-growers that are often outcompeted by fast-growers in cultivation experiments. Here we describe a microfluidic platform that anaerobically isolates and cultivates microbial cells in millions of picoliter droplets and automatically sorts them based on colony density to enhance slow-growing organisms. We applied our strategy to a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) donor stool using multiple growth media, and found significant increase in taxonomic richness and larger representation of rare and clinically relevant taxa among droplet-grown cells compared to conventional plates. Furthermore, screening the FMT donor stool for antibiotic resistance revealed 21 populations that evaded detection in plate-based assessment of antibiotic resistance. Our method improves cultivation-based surveys of diverse microbiomes to gain deeper insights into microbial functioning and lifestyles.
Watterson, W., Tanyeri, M., Watson, A., Cham, C., Shan, Y., Chang, E., Eren, A., & Tay, S. (2020). Droplet-based high-throughput cultivation for accurate screening of antibiotic resistant gut microbes. eLife, 9, 1-22. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.56998