Andreas Buchenauer, Matthias Funke, Jochen Büchs, Wilfried Mokwa, Uwe Schnakenberg:
Microbioreactors with microfluidic control and a user-friendly connection to the actuator hardware
Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, 2009, 19:7
In this study, an array of microbioreactors based on the format of 48-well microtiter plates (MTPs) is presented. The process parameters pH and biomass are monitored online using commercially available optical sensor technology. A microfluidic device dispenses acid or base individually into each well for controlling the pH of fermentations. Fluid volumes from 72 nL to 940 nL can be supplied with valve opening times between 10 ms and 200 ms. One microfluidic device is capable of supplying four wells from two reservoirs. Up to four microfluidic devices can be integrated on the area of a prototype MTP. The devices are fabricated in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) using soft lithographic techniques and utilize pneumatically actuated microvalves. During fermentations, the microbioreactor is clamped to an orbital shaker and a temporary pneumatic connection guides the externally controlled pressurized air to the microfluidic device. Finally, fermentations of Escherichia coli in the presence and absence of pH control are carried out in the microbioreactor system over 18 h. During the fermentation the pH of the cultures is continuously monitored by means of optodes. An ammonia solution or phosphoric acid is dispensed to adjust the pH if it differs from the set point of 7.2. In a controlled culture, the pH can be sustained within 7.0 to 7.3 while the pH in an uncontrolled culture ranges between 6.5 and 9.0. This microbioreactor demonstrates the possibility of pH-controlled fermentations in micro-scale. The process control and the user friendly connection to the actuation hardware provide an easy handling comparable to standard MTPs.