Label-free Time- and Space-resolved Exometabolite Sampling of Growing Plant Roots Through Nanoporous Interfaces


Damit E. W. Patabadige, Larry K. Millet, Jayde A. Aufrecht, Peter G. Shankles, Robert F. Standaert, Scott T. Retireer, Mitchel J. Doktycz


Spatial and temporal profiling of metabolites within and between living systems is vital to understanding how chemical signaling shapes the composition and function of these complex systems. Measurement of metabolites is challenging because they are often not amenable to extrinsic tags, are diverse in nature, and are present with a broad range of concentrations. Moreover, direct imaging by chemically informative tools can significantly compromise viability of the system of interest or lack adequate resolution. Here, we present a nano-enabled and label-free imaging technology using a microfluidic sampling network to track production and distribution of chemical information in the microenvironment of a living organism. We describe the integration of a polyester track-etched (PETE) nanofluidic interface to physically confine the biological sample within the model environment, while allowing fluidic access via an underlying microfluidic network. The nanoporous interface enables sampling of the microenvironment above in a time-dependent and spatially-resolved manner. For demonstration, the diffusional flux through the PETE membrane was characterized to understand membrane performance, and exometabolites from a growing plant root were successfully profiled in a space- and time-resolved manner. This method and device provide a frame-by-frame description of the chemical environment that maps to the physical and biological characteristics of the sample.

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Patabadige DEW, Millet LJ, Aufrecht JA, Shankles PG, Standaert RF, Retterer ST, Doktycz MJ. 2019. Label-free time- and space-resolved exometabolite sampling of growing plant roots through nanoporous interfaces. Scientific Reports 9.