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Optical Engineering • Open Access

Design of a dynamic biofilm imaging cell for white-light interferometric microscopy
Author(s): Curtis Larimer; Michelle Brann; Jonathan D. Suter; R. Shane Addleman

Paper Abstract

In microbiology research, there is a strong need for next-generation imaging and sensing instrumentation that will enable minimally invasive and label-free investigation of soft, hydrated structures, such as in bacterial biofilms. White-light interferometry (WLI) can provide high-resolution images of surface topology without the use of fluorescent labels but is not typically used to image biofilms because there is insufficient refractive index contrast to induce reflection from the biofilm’s interface. The soft structure and water-like bulk properties of hydrated biofilms make them difficult to characterize in situ, especially in a nondestructive manner. We build on our prior description of static biofilm imaging and describe the design of a dynamic growth flow cell that enables monitoring of the thickness and topology of live biofilms over time using a WLI microscope. The microfluidic system is designed to grow biofilms in dynamic conditions and to create a reflective interface on the surface while minimizing disruption of fragile structures. The imaging cell was also designed to accommodate limitations imposed by the depth of focus of the microscope’s objective lens. Example images of live biofilm samples are shown to illustrate the ability of the flow cell and WLI instrument to (1) support bacterial growth and biofilm development, (2) image biofilm structure that reflects growth in flow conditions, and (3) monitor biofilm development over time nondestructively. In future work, the apparatus described here will enable surface metrology measurements (roughness, surface area, etc.) of biofilms and may be used to observe changes in biofilm structure in response to changes in environmental conditions (e.g., flow velocity, availability of nutrients, and presence of biocides). This development will open opportunities for the use of WLI in bioimaging.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 May 2017
PDF: 8 pages
Opt. Eng. 56(11) 111708 doi: 10.1117/1.OE.56.11.111708
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 56, Issue 11
Show Author Affiliations
Curtis Larimer, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
Michelle Brann, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
Jonathan D. Suter, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
R. Shane Addleman, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)

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