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Biomicrofluidics. 2011 Dec;5(4):44103-4410311. doi: 10.1063/1.3651620. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Microfluidic droplet encapsulation of highly motile single zoospores for phenotypic screening of an antioomycete chemical.


Highly motile Phytophthora sojae (P. sojae) zoospores of an oomycete plant pathogen and antioomycete candidate chemicals were encapsulated into microdroplets. Random fast self-motion of P. sojae zoospores was overcome by choosing an appropriate flow rate for a zoospore suspension. To influence stochastic loading of zoospores into a microfluidic channel, a zoospore suspension was directly preloaded into a microtubing with a largely reduced inner diameter. A relatively high single zoospore encapsulation rate of 60.5% was achieved on a most trivial T-junction droplet generator platform, without involving any specially designed channel geometry. We speculated that spatial reduction in the diameter direction of microtubing added a degree of zoospore ordering in the longitudinal direction of microtubing and thus influenced positively to change the inherent limitation of stochastic encapsulation of zoospores. Comparative phenotypic study of a plant oomycete pathogen at a single zoospore level had not been achieved earlier. Phenotypic changes of zoospores responding to various chemical concentration conditions were measured in multiple droplets in parallel, providing a reliable data set and thus an improved statistic at a low chemical consumption. Since each droplet compartment contained a single zoospore, we were able to track the germinating history of individual zoospores without being interfered by other germinating zoospores, achieving a high spatial resolution. By adapting some existing droplet immobilization and concentration gradient generation techniques, the droplet approach could potentially lead to a medium-to-high throughput, reliable screening assay for chemicals against many other highly motile zoospores of pathogens.

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