First Post! – Microbiology Independent Project

Hi Everyone!

My name is Leo and I am a high school student from Marin County, CA. I love science, especially biology, and plan on majoring in a biology-related field at university and then going on to medical school. I am really happy to join such a great community of people that share my passion of science and am really looking forward to seeing all the interesting, creative ways people use their Foldscopes. I am also excited to put my Foldscope to good use for some of my projects and hope to share some of my work with you all.

Currently, I am working on a microbiology research project exploring Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia Coli, and Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formations and am trying to isolate bacteriophages that could destroy them. However, I am mainly focusing my efforts on finding a way to destroy P. aeruginosa biofilms as doing so could be used to help cure the fatal lung infections that cannot be cured with antibiotics as the biofilm state that the bacteria are in renders them very resistant to traditional antibiotic therapy. These lung infections are the main cause of death of Cystic Fibrosis patients so I hope to be successful in my research.

The last 2 photos below are of the petri dishes that I took out of the incubator this afternoon. They were treated with an agar nutrient gel and a P. aeruginosa (PSA) lawn was spread over the agar. Yesterday, I placed different combinations of PSA, E. coli, and Staph that grew for 24 hours two days ago in the quadrants over the PSA lawn. This afternoon, I checked these petri dishes and noticed that there were small zones of clearance at the edge of the triple culture quadrant in the 1st petri dish, while the other cultures were unable to stop the spread of the PSA lawn. The situation was similar in the 2nd petri dish.

Although this is my 1st set of competition assays, I was able to get some pretty interesting results. I think that there might be some bacteriophage release from the E. coli and Staph in the triple culture as a defense against the PSA’s spreading. Since the E. coli and Staph were exposed to PSA when they were in the triple culture, they had adapted to effectively defend against it so they were able to do the same when exposed to the PSA lawn.

I am going to retry this experiment and then try treating the bacteria with subtherapeutic doses of antibiotic or changing the bacteria ratios. Once I start getting consistent results, I am going to start testing for bacteriophages that target PSA and, if I find any, I will try to isolate them. I will also gather samples from these petri dishes and use my Foldscope to try and get a close look at the bacteria to just see what is happening in their world.

Anyway, I am just so happy to be a part of this community and cannot wait to see what everyone does with their Foldscopes.






6 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Welcome to the community @Leo. I am very excited to have you join.. Your projects sound fascinating and I can’t wait to see what your competition assay shows.

    One trick that you will find very useful is learning to do time lapse imaging with a Foldscope. Read some previous posts on the same. I am assuming your kit contains magnetic couplets and light module.

    Also; it takes time to get good at anything – so do follow through Foldscope posts here and specially ones that teach you tricks (focus locking, time lapse, etc).


  2. laksiyer says:

    Sounds fantastic. Also consider the possibility of a conflict system at play, either in the form of secreted toxins, or contact dependent toxin delivery systems. I remember there was a colicin assay we used to do, where we could differentiate strains of Pseudomonas. Cant wait to see what you will see under the foldscope.

  3. Matthew Rossi says:

    Welcome to the community, Leo! This project sounds great. I’m impressed by how methodical it is!

  4. Saad Bhamla says:

    Welcome to the community Leo!

    One thing I would add is that biofilms by themselves are an amazing structural phenomena – and I would highly encourage you to stick some under your foldscope and observe the intricate structures..
    Sometimes when you think of destroying or hindering biofilms – a subtle clue could be a structural weakening of the system (shorter, disentangled strands) – and that could be a first step to completely hindering their growth.

    Looking under the foldscope will hopefully allow you to get some more subtle clues that you might miss through your naked eye.

    Good luck and looking forward to your next posts..


  5. leo10bi says:

    Thank you all so much for the very nice comments and advice. I will definitely keep you guys updated on the project and put my Foldscope to good use.

    – Leo

  6. chewc12 says:

    @ Leo, the biofilm project sounds awesome! You should definitely check out curcumin; it is a common spice/ food coloring used in cooking, but it also is known to inhibit biofilm formation in E-coli and Staph. I think it would be really cool to make comparison between bacteriophages and curcumin.

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