Sci­en­tists find inno­v­a­tive method for cul­ti­vating bacteria

Two North­eastern Uni­ver­sity researchers have dis­cov­ered a way to domes­ti­cate “stub­born” micro­bial species. The rev­o­lu­tionary method cap­i­tal­izes on their ear­lier tech­nology to grow microor­gan­isms in dif­fu­sion cham­bers incu­bated in nat­ural envi­ron­ment. Now Pro­fes­sors Slava Epstein and Kim Lewis, Director of Northeastern’s Antimi­cro­bial Dis­covery Center, have shown that a series of such incu­ba­tions lead to the appear­ance of vari­ants capable of growth on stan­dard media. Addi­tion­ally, they designed a “chip” allowing mas­sively par­allel growth and iso­la­tion of pure micro­bial cultures.

This new process will allow North­eastern researchers to grow microor­gan­isms without having to painstak­ingly sep­a­rate the strains as pre­vious tech­niques required,” said Epstein, Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Micro­bi­ology at North­eastern University.

The net effect of the new devel­op­ments is a simple, high throughput tech­nology to access a novel source of bio­log­ical diver­sity: pre­vi­ously uncul­ti­vated micro­bial species. Micro­bial cul­ti­va­tion is a fun­da­mental tool in both basic and applied micro­bi­ology, and invalu­able in obtaining suf­fi­cient micro­bial bio­mass to har­vest useful mol­e­cules it produces.

The new tech­nology will enable growing and uti­lizing novel species impor­tant for appli­ca­tion in biore­me­di­a­tion, alter­na­tive fuel research, and drug discovery.

For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Samantha Fodrowski at 617–373-5427 or at s.​fodrowski@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.