Many microbial phenotypes are differentially or exclusively expressed on agar surfaces, including biofilms, motility, and sociality. However, agar-based assays are limited by their low throughput, which increases costs, lab waste, space requirements, and the time required to conduct experiments. Here, we demonstrate the use of wax-printed microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (μPADs) to measure linear growth rate of microbes on an agar growth media as a means of circumventing the aforementioned limitations. The main production materials of the proposed μPAD design are a wax printer, filter paper, and empty pipet boxes. A single wax-printed μPAD allowing 8 independent, agar-grown colonies costs $0.07, compared to $0.20 and $9.37 for the same number of replicates on traditional microtiter/spectrophotometry and Petri dish assays, respectively. We optimized the μPAD design for channel width (3 mm), agar volume (780 μL/channel), and microbe inoculation method (razor-blade). Comparative analyses of the traditional and proposed μPAD methods for measuring growth rate of nonmotile (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and motile (flagellated Escherichia coli) microorganisms suggested the μPAD assays conferred a comparable degree of accuracy and reliability to growth rate measurements as their traditional counterparts. We substantiated this claim with strong, positive correlations between the traditional and μPAD assay, a significant nonzero slope in the model relating the two assays, a nonsignificant difference between the relative standard errors of the two techniques, and an analysis of inter-device reliability. Therefore, μPAD designs merit consideration for the development of enhanced-throughput, low-cost microbial growth and motility assays.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)