Microbioreactor arrays with integrated mixers and fluid injectors for high-throughput experimentation with pH and dissolved oxygen control

Lab Chip. 2006 Sep;6(9):1229-35. doi: 10.1039/b608014f. Epub 2006 Jul 27.


We have developed an integrated array of microbioreactors, with 100 microL working volume, comprising a peristaltic oxygenating mixer and microfluidic injectors. These integrated devices were fabricated in a single chip and can provide a high oxygen transfer rate (k(L)a approximately 0.1 s(-1)) without introducing bubbles, and closed loop control over dissolved oxygen and pH (+/-0.1). The system was capable of supporting eight simultaneous Escherichia coli fermentations to cell densities greater than 13 g-dcw L(-1) (1 cm OD(650 nm) > 40). This cell density was comparable to that achieved in a 4 litre reference fermentation, conducted with the same strain, in a bench scale stirred tank bioreactor and is more than four times higher than cell densities previously achieved in microbioreactors. Bubble free oxygenation permitted near real time optical density measurements which could be used to observe subtle changes in the growth rate and infer changes in the state of microbial genetic networks. Our system provides a platform for the study of the interaction of microbial populations with different environmental conditions, which has applications in basic science and industrial bioprocess development. We leverage the advantages of microfluidic integration to deliver a disposable, parallel bioreactor in a single chip, rather than robotically multiplexing independent bioreactors, which opens a new avenue for scaling small scale bioreactor arrays with the capabilities of bench scale stirred tank reactors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ammonium Hydroxide
  • Bioreactors / microbiology*
  • Culture Media
  • Equipment Design
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Fermentation
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydroxides / chemistry
  • Industrial Microbiology
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods
  • Miniaturization
  • Oxygen*


  • Culture Media
  • Hydroxides
  • Ammonium Hydroxide
  • Oxygen