ABSTRACT: Biohybrid microswimmers, which are realized through the integration of motile microscopic organisms with artificial cargo carriers, have a significant potential to revolutionize autonomous targeted cargo delivery applications in medicine. Nonetheless, there are many open challenges, such as motility performance and immunogenicity of the biological segment of the microswimmers, which should be overcome before their successful transition to the clinic. Here, we present the design and characterization of a biohybrid microswimmer, which is composed of a genetically engineered peritrichously flagellated Escherichia coli species integrated with red blood cell-derived nanoliposomes, also known as nanoerythrosomes. Initially, we demonstrated nanoerythrosome fabrication using the cell extrusion technique and characterization of their size and functional cell membrane proteins with dynamic light scattering and flow cytometry analyses, respectively. Then, we showed the construction of biohybrid microswimmers through the conjugation of streptavidin-modified bacteria with biotin-modified nanoerythrosomes by using non-covalent streptavidin interaction. Finally, we investigated the motility performance of the nanoerythrosome-functionalized biohybrid microswimmers and compared it with the free-swimming bacteria. The microswimmer design approach presented here could lead to the fabrication of personalized biohybrid microswimmers from patients' own cells with high fabrication efficiencies and motility performances.
Project description:Despite the large body of experimental work recently on biohybrid microsystems, few studies have focused on theoretical modeling of such systems, which is essential to understand their underlying functioning mechanisms and hence design them optimally for a given application task. Therefore, this study focuses on developing a mathematical model to describe the 3D motion and chemotaxis of a type of widely studied biohybrid microswimmer, where spherical microbeads are driven by multiple attached bacteria. The model is developed based on the biophysical observations of the experimental system and is validated by comparing the model simulation with experimental 3D swimming trajectories and other motility characteristics, including mean squared displacement, speed, diffusivity, and turn angle. The chemotaxis modeling results of the microswimmers also agree well with the experiments, where a collective chemotactic behavior among multiple bacteria is observed. The simulation result implies that such collective chemotaxis behavior is due to a synchronized signaling pathway across the bacteria attached to the same microswimmer. Furthermore, the dependencies of the motility and chemotaxis of the microswimmers on certain system parameters, such as the chemoattractant concentration gradient, swimmer body size, and number of attached bacteria, toward an optimized design of such biohybrid system are studied. The optimized microswimmers would be used in targeted cargo, e.g., drug, imaging agent, gene, and RNA, transport and delivery inside the stagnant or low-velocity fluids of the human body as one of their potential biomedical applications.
Project description:Bacterial biohybrid microswimmers aim at exploiting the inherent motion capabilities of bacteria (carriers) to transport objects (cargoes) at the microscale. One of the most desired properties of microswimmers is their ability to communicate with their immediate environment by processing the information and producing a useful response. Indeed, bacteria are naturally equipped with such communication skills. Hereby, two-component systems (TCSs) represent the key signal transducing machinery and enable bacteria to sense and respond to a variety of stimuli. We engineered a natural microswimmer based on the Gram-positive model bacterium Bacillus subtilis for the development of biohybrids with sensing abilities. B. subtilis naturally adhered to silica particles, giving rise to different motile biohybrids systems with variable ratios of carrier(s)-to-cargo(es). Genetically engineered TCS pathways allowed us to couple the binding to the inert particles with signaling the presence of antibiotics in their surroundings. Activation of the antibiotic-induced TCSs resulted in fluorescent bacterial carriers as a response readout. We demonstrate that the genetically engineered TCS-mediated signaling capabilities of B. subtilis allow for the custom design of bacterial hybrid microswimmers able to sense and signal the presence of target molecules in the environment. The generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status of B. subtilis makes it a promising candidate for human-related applications of these novel biohybrids.
Project description:Bacteria-driven biohybrid microswimmers (bacteriabots) combine synthetic cargo with motile living bacteria that enable propulsion and steering. Although fabrication and potential use of such bacteriabots have attracted much attention, existing methods of fabrication require an extensive sample preparation that can drastically decrease the viability and motility of bacteria. Moreover, chemotactic behavior of bacteriabots in a liquid medium with chemical gradients has remained largely unclear. To overcome these shortcomings, we designed Escherichia coli to autonomously display biotin on its cell surface via the engineered autotransporter antigen 43 and thus to bind streptavidin-coated cargo. We show that the cargo attachment to these bacteria is greatly enhanced by motility and occurs predominantly at the cell poles, which is greatly beneficial for the fabrication of motile bacteriabots. We further performed a systemic study to understand and optimize the ability of these bacteriabots to follow chemical gradients. We demonstrate that the chemotaxis of bacteriabots is primarily limited by the cargo-dependent reduction of swimming speed and show that the fabrication of bacteriabots using elongated E. coli cells can be used to overcome this limitation.
Project description:Active self-propelled colloidal populations induce time-dependent three-dimensional fluid flows, which alter the rheological (viscoelastic) properties of their fluidic media. Researchers have also studied passive colloids mixed with bacterial suspensions to understand the hydrodynamic coupling between active and passive colloids. With recent developments in biological cell-driven biohybrid microswimmers, different type biological microswimmer (e.g., bacteria and algae) populations need to interact fluidically with each other in the same fluidic media, while such interactions have not been studied experimentally yet. Therefore, we report the swimming behavior of two opposite types of biological microswimmer (active colloid) populations: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (C. reinhardtii) algae (puller-type microswimmers) population in coculture with Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria (pusher-type microswimmers) population. We observed noticeable fluidic coupling deviations from the existing understanding of passive colloids mixed with bacterial suspensions previously studied in the literature. The fluidic coupling among puller- and pusher-type microswimmers led to nonequilibrium fluctuations in the fluid flow due to their opposite swimming patterns. Such coupling could be the main reason behind the shift in motility behaviors of these two opposite-type swimmer populations suspended in the same fluidic media.
Project description:Biohybrid microswimmers exploit the swimming and navigation of a motile microorganism to target and deliver cargo molecules in a wide range of biomedical applications. Medical biohybrid microswimmers suffer from low manufacturing yields, which would significantly limit their potential applications. In the present study, a biohybrid design strategy is reported, where a thin and soft uniform coating layer is noncovalently assembled around a motile microorganism. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (a single-cell green alga) is used in the design as a biological model microorganism along with polymer-nanoparticle matrix as the synthetic component, reaching a manufacturing efficiency of ?90%. Natural biopolymer chitosan is used as a binder to efficiently coat the cell wall of the microalgae with nanoparticles. The soft surface coating does not impair the viability and phototactic ability of the microalgae, and allows further engineering to accommodate biomedical cargo molecules. Furthermore, by conjugating the nanoparticles embedded in the thin coating with chemotherapeutic doxorubicin by a photocleavable linker, on-demand delivery of drugs to tumor cells is reported as a proof-of-concept biomedical demonstration. The high-throughput strategy can pave the way for the next-generation generation microrobotic swarms for future medical active cargo delivery tasks.
Project description:In this study, in a bio-hybrid microswimmer system driven by multiple Serratia marcescens bacteria, we quantify the chemotactic drift of a large number of microswimmers towards L-serine and elucidate the associated collective chemotaxis behavior by statistical analysis of over a thousand swimming trajectories of the microswimmers. The results show that the microswimmers have a strong heading preference for moving up the L-serine gradient, while their speed does not change considerably when moving up and down the gradient; therefore, the heading bias constitutes the major factor that produces the chemotactic drift. The heading direction of a microswimmer is found to be significantly more persistent when it moves up the L-serine gradient than when it travels down the gradient; this effect causes the apparent heading preference of the microswimmers and is the crucial reason that enables the seemingly cooperative chemotaxis of multiple bacteria on a microswimmer. In addition, we find that their chemotactic drift velocity increases superquadratically with their mean swimming speed, suggesting that chemotaxis of bio-hybrid microsystems can be enhanced by designing and building faster microswimmers. Such bio-hybrid microswimmers with chemotactic steering capability may find future applications in targeted drug delivery, bioengineering, and lab-on-a-chip devices.
Project description:Acoustic actuation of bioinspired microswimmers is experimentally demonstrated. Microswimmers are fabricated in situ in a microchannel. Upon acoustic excitation, the flagellum of the microswimmer oscillates, which in turn generates linear or rotary movement depending on the swimmer design. The speed of these bioinspired microswimmers is tuned by adjusting the voltage amplitude applied to the acoustic transducer. Simple microfabrication and remote actuation are promising for biomedical applications.
Project description:Nano/microswimmers represent the persistent endeavors of generations of scientists towards the ultimate tiny machinery for device manufacturing, targeted drug delivery, and noninvasive surgery. In many of these envisioned applications, multiple microswimmers need to be controlled independently and work cooperatively to perform a complex task. However, this multiple channel actuation remains a challenge as the controlling signal, usually a magnetic or electric field, is applied globally over all microswimmers, which makes it difficult to decouple the responses of multiple microswimmers. Here, we demonstrate that a photoelectrochemically driven nanotree microswimmer can be easily coded with a distinct spectral response by loading it with dyes. By using different dyes, an individual microswimmer can be controlled and navigated independently of other microswimmers in a group. This development demonstrates the excellent flexibility of the light navigation method and paves the way for the development of more functional nanobots for applications that require high-level controllability.
Project description:Selective actuation of a single microswimmer from within a diverse group would be a first step toward collaborative guided action by a group of swimmers. Here we describe a new class of microswimmer that accomplishes this goal. Our swimmer design overcomes the commonly-held design paradigm that microswimmers must use non-reciprocal motion to achieve propulsion; instead, the swimmer is propelled by oscillatory motion of an air bubble trapped within the swimmer's polymer body. This oscillatory motion is driven by the application of a low-power acoustic field, which is biocompatible with biological samples and with the ambient liquid. This acoustically-powered microswimmer accomplishes controllable and rapid translational and rotational motion, even in highly viscous liquids (with viscosity 6,000 times higher than that of water). And by using a group of swimmers each with a unique bubble size (and resulting unique resonance frequencies), selective actuation of a single swimmer from among the group can be readily achieved.
Project description:The dynamics and motion of multi-ciliated microswimmers with a spherical body and a small number N (with [Formula: see text]) of cilia with length comparable to the body radius, is investigated by mesoscale hydrodynamics simulations. A metachronal wave is imposed for the cilia beat, for which the wave vector has both a longitudinal and a latitudinal component. The dynamics and motion is characterized by the swimming velocity, its variation over the beat cycle, the spinning velocity around the main body axis, as well as the parameters of the helical trajectory. Our simulation results show that the microswimmer motion strongly depends on the latitudinal wave number and the longitudinal phase lag. The microswimmers are found to swim smoothly and usually spin around their own axis. Chirality of the metachronal beat pattern generically generates helical trajectories. In most cases, the helices are thin and stretched, i.e., the helix radius is about an order of magnitude smaller than the pitch. The rotational diffusion of the microswimmer is significantly smaller than the passive rotational diffusion of the body alone, which indicates that the extended cilia contribute strongly to the hydrodynamic radius. The swimming velocity is found to increase with the cilia number N with a slightly sublinear power law, consistent with the behavior expected from the dependence of the transport velocity of planar cilia arrays on the cilia separation.