Monitoring of individual bacteria using electro-photonic traps

Donato Conteduca, Giuseppe Brunetti, Francesco Dell’Olio, Mario N. Armenise, Thomas F. Krauss, Caterina Ciminelli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) describes the ability of bacteria to become immune to antimicrobial treatments. Current testing for AMR is based on culturing methods that are very slow because they assess the average response of billions of bacteria. In principle, if tests were available that could assess the response of individual bacteria, they could be much faster. Here, we propose an electro-photonic approach for the analysis and the monitoring of susceptibility at the single-bacterium level. Our method employs optical tweezers based on photonic crystal cavities for the trapping of individual bacteria. While the bacteria are trapped, antibiotics can be added to the medium and the corresponding changes in the optical properties and motility of the bacteria be monitored via changes of the resonance wavelength and transmission. Furthermore, the proposed assay is able to monitor the impedance of the medium surrounding the bacterium, which allows us to record changes in metabolic rate in response to the antibiotic challenge. For example, our simulations predict a variation in measurable electrical current of up to 40% between dead and live bacteria. The proposed platform is the first, to our knowledge, that allows the parallel study of both the optical and the electrical response of individual bacteria to antibiotic challenge. Our platform opens up new lines of enquiry for monitoring the response of bacteria and it could lead the way towards the dissemination of a new generation of antibiogram study, which is relevant for the development of a point-of-care AMR diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3463-3471
Number of pages9
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2019

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