Microdroplet enabled cultivation of single yeast cells correlates with bulk growth and reveals subpopulation phenomena

Hangrui Liu, Xin Xu, Kai Peng, Yuxin Zhang, Lianmei Jiang, Thomas C. Williams, Ian T. Paulsen, James A. Piper, Ming Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Yeast has been engineered for cost-effective organic acid production through metabolic engineering and synthetic biology techniques. However, cell growth assays in these processes were performed in bulk at the population level, thus obscuring the dynamics of rare single cells exhibiting beneficial traits. Here, we introduce the use of monodisperse picolitre droplets as bioreactors to cultivate yeast at the single-cell level. We investigated the effect of acid stress on growth and the effect of potassium ions on propionic acid tolerance for single yeast cells of different species, genotypes, and phenotypes. The results showed that the average growth of single yeast cells in microdroplets experiences the same trend to those of yeast populations grown in bulk, and microdroplet compartments do not significantly affect cell viability. This approach offers the prospect of detecting cell-to-cell variations in growth and physiology and is expected to be applied for the engineering of yeast to produce value-added bioproducts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-658
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Volume118
Issue number2
Early online date6 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • droplet microfluidics
  • Pichia pastoris
  • propionic acid tolerance
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • single-cell growth

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