Researchers in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Vermont are taking advantage of the ease of use and reproducibility of Dolomite Microfluidics’ microfluidic droplet system and glass junction chips to enhance the study of biomechanics:
“Sophisticated tools are now available for the investigation of the genetic structure of plants and subcellular processes, but hardly any exist for studying plant biomechanics at the cellular level,” states Associate Professor Philip M. Lintilhac. “Scientists have attempted to study plant structures using techniques such as photoelastic modelling and high-speed video micrography, but these approaches suffer from significant interference or are difficult to interpret. The dawn of droplet microfluidics has opened the door to novel ways of manipulating individual cells, capturing them in an isotropic and homogenous mechanical environment where variables can be isolated more effectively. Once encapsulated in hydrogel beads, the cells are isolated from the physical influence of neighbouring cells and can be subjected to controlled mechanical forces.”
Dr Lintilhac’s research team initially used a pressure-driven atomisation process to produce a stream of droplets, but then switched to a commercially available system from Dolomite Microfluidics that enabled reliable and reproducible encapsulation of individual cells in hydrogel beads. This system allows easy control of droplet diameter by adjusting flow rates and generates up to 130 consistently sized, spherical hydrogel microbeads per second. It has allowed the researchers to adopt a new approach to the study of plant cell biomechanics, and the team is now optimising the process and experimenting with ways to further improve the application of droplet microfluidics to plant cell biology.
For further information about the project and about Dolomite Fluidics visit www.dolomite-microfluidics.com
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