Scientists Immobilize Bacteria in Fibrous Hydrogel

Bacteria play a role in myriad industrial processes from fermentation to cleaning up environmental pollution. But floating freely in solution, the microbial cells constantly multiply, generating biomass that must be removed periodically, causing downtime. Additionally, the microorganisms cannot be localized to a specific region of interest.
Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have devised a way to encapsulate bacteria in a synthetic polymer hydrogel. These new, stable, bio-hybrid materials maintain the microbes’ ability to exchange nutrients and metabolic products with their environment, and could find widespread applications, for example, as biosensors, catalysts, drug-delivery systems, or in wastewater treatment. The method and results are described in a paper published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of August 3, 2009.

Trapped! Scientists Immobilize Bacteria in Fibrous Hydrogel.

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