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The invasion of 3D printing has even infiltrated the world of bacteria. Ravinahs Kumar discusses how this technology provides researchers with a new way to watch bacterial communities interact under a variety of conditions.

Listen and learn

  • How a 3D-printed bacteria model helps researchers learn more about the community-based system of bacteria under different spatial constraints,
  • How researchers use ideal material properties for bioprinting to test how stubborn bacterial systems like biofilms evolve and stay almost impenetrable, and
  • What are some interesting findings such as bacteria sacrificing themselves to release toxins and keep the collective organism safe.

Ravinash Krishna Kumar is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford. He is working on 3D printing bacteria to both test the potential of this technology and investigate bacterial community interactions. They’ve been able to print different populations, strains, and species and explore how spatial positions affect their stability and productivity.

In fact, by designating a variety of parameters, they can position clusters of bacteria in defined spatial patterns and make comparisons. For example, they can print out different clusters of E. coli and test how they interact under different conditions on a much smaller scale than previous agar-dependent studies.

This cutting-edge technology, scale, and material allows them to ask a host of new questions. In addition to observing different strains interacting, they can observe how those strains grow when segregated. He adds that they can  observe them “consuming local nutrients or sending out diffusible molecules to each other, or touching each other literally, and sending things across to each other.”

In other words, his research explores a whole new way to understand bacterial competition and commensalism in spaces similar to natural spaces. This eventually will help researchers treat diseases caused by bacterial growth in biofilms and through mucosa in the human immune system.

Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C

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