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Bacteria often live in diverse communities where the spatial arrangement of strains and species is considered critical for their ecology. However, a test of this hypothesis requires manipulation at the fine scales at which spatial structure naturally occurs. Here we develop a droplet-based printing method to arrange bacterial genotypes across a sub-millimetre array. We print strains of the gut bacterium Escherichia coli that naturally compete with one another using protein toxins. Our experiments reveal that toxin-producing strains largely eliminate susceptible non-producers when genotypes are well-mixed. However, printing strains side-by-side creates an ecological refuge where susceptible strains can persist in large numbers. Moving to competitions between toxin producers reveals that spatial structure can make the difference between one strain winning and mutual destruction. Finally, we print different potential …
Nature Publishing Group
Publication date: 
8 Feb 2021

Ravinash Krishna Kumar, Thomas A Meiller-Legrand, Alessandro Alcinesio, Diego Gonzalez, Despoina AI Mavridou, Oliver J Meacock, William PJ Smith, Linna Zhou, Wook Kim, Gökçe Su Pulcu, Hagan Bayley, Kevin R Foster

Biblio References: 
Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Pages: 1-12
Nature communications