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Colloquium: "Droplet-based microfluidics for bottom-up synthetic biology" (Lecture)

Tuesday 30 January 2018Add to my calendar
from 11:00
Prof. W. Huck
Professor Jean-Christophe Baret (University Bordeaux, CNRS France)

prof JC Baret - jan2018Droplet-based microfluidics offers new tools for the miniaturization and automatization of biochemical assays, for applications in diagnostics, next generation sequencing or high-throughput cell screening [1-3].

The fine control of the droplet manipulation in this format now also offers means to create new types of active microreactors. Here, we use microfluidics to control the assembly and the chemical functionalisation of microcompartments using parts of metabolic pathways. We derived a fluorescent assay compatible with High-Throughput Microfluidic Screening Systems to quantitatively determine the metabolic state (‘active’ vs ‘sleeping’) of large assemblies of microcompartments. We show that the compartments sustain a metabolic out-of equilibrium state over times depending on the experimental conditions and we reversibly induce a transition from a sleeping state to an active state opening the door to the controled assembly of out-of-equilibrium artificial protocells.

We foresee that an approach combining active soft matter principles and microfluidics will lead in the future to the creation of microstructures of increasing complexity having properties mimicking (and maybe converging to) those of living systems. In the long run, microfluidics will most likely play an essential role to test the hypothesis of the origin of life from soft-matter ingredients, as proposed a couple of decades ago by Fox and Oparin [4,5].

[1] Baret et al. Lab Chip 2009 [2] Guo et al. Lab Chip, 2012 [3] Rakszewska et al. NPG Asia Materials 2014 [4] Fox et al. Science 1959 [5] Oparin, Advances in Enzymology, 1965

There will be an opportunity to discuss the colloquium and other developments during an informal get-together.