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Accelerating bacterial growth detection and antimicrobial susceptibility assessment in integrated picoliter droplet platform.


There remains an urgent need for rapid diagnostic methods that can evaluate antibiotic resistance for pathogenic bacteria in order to deliver targeted antibiotic treatments. Toward this end, we present a rapid and integrated single-cell biosensing platform, termed dropFAST, for bacterial growth detection and antimicrobial susceptibility assessment. DropFAST utilizes a rapid resazurin-based fluorescent growth assay coupled with stochastic confinement of bacteria in 20 pL droplets to detect signal from growing bacteria after 1h incubation, equivalent to 2-3 bacterial replications. Full integration of droplet generation, incubation, and detection into a single, uninterrupted stream also renders this platform uniquely suitable for in-line bacterial phenotypic growth assessment. To illustrate the concept of rapid digital antimicrobial susceptibility assessment, we employ the dropFAST platform to evaluate the antibacterial effect of gentamicin on E. coli growth.