Optical tweezers offer a non-contact method for selecting single cells and translocating them from one microenvironment to another. We have characterized the optical tweezing of yeast S. cerevisiae
and can manipulate single cells at 0.41 ± 0.06 mm/s using a 26.8 ± 0.1 mW from a 785 nm diode laser. We have fabricated and tested three cell isolation devices; a micropipette, a PDMS chip and a laser machined fused silica chip and we have isolated yeast, single bacteria and cyanobacteria cells. The most effective isolation was achieved in PDMS chips, where single yeast cells were grown and observed for 18 h without contamination. The duration of budding in S. cerevisiae
was not affected by the laser parameters used, but the time from tweezing until the first budding event began increased with increasing laser energy (laser power × time). Yeast cells tweezed using 25.0 ± 0.1 mW for 1 min were viable after isolation. We have constructed a micro-consortium of yeast cells, and a co-culture of yeast and bacteria, using optical tweezers in combination with the PDMS network of channels and isolation chambers, which may impact on both industrial biotechnology and understanding pathogen dynamics.
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