Under the Thailand-China Joint Laboratory on Microbial Biotechnology established by BIOTEC, NSTDA and IMCAS, the Microfluidic Streak Plate (MSP) system for high-throughput microbial isolation and cultivation has been successfully setup at Thailand BioResource Research Center (TBRC), BIOTEC, Thailand during 2020-2021. After that, the MSP technology has been fruitfully utilized in many research work. First, the MSP technology has been applied in the MekongDNA project (https://www.mekongdna.org), an international collaborative project on assessing the ecological status of the Lancang-Mekong River based on environmental DNA metabarcoding led by Dr Supawadee Ingsriswang from TBRC, BIOTEC, NSTDA, with the funding granted by the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund program of China. In this project, to develop a panel of bioindicators for monitoring of water quality based on microbial communities in Lancang-Mekong River, a large number of samples will be collected and analyzed by eDNA metabarcoding approach. However, with the purpose of effectively increasing the coverage of microbial diversity, MSP shows its immense potential for high-throughput isolation and cultivation of diverse microbes, especially rare microorganisms, from Lancang-Mekong river samples. Currently, the MSP is utilized to expand the repertoire of cultivable species and characterize microbial communities from river ecosystems such as the Lancang-Mekong River at the joint lab. The advancement of eDNA and microfluidics will enable us to gain almost a complete profile of the microbial community in water resources.
To further improve many aspects of the MSP, especially applying droplet microfluidics technology for isolation and culturing of environmental microbes, a 3-year (2021-2023) collaborative research projects from the joint lab entitled “MSP: The development of droplet microfluidics for high-throughput microbial cultivation” led by Dr. Supawadee Ingsriswang from BIOTEC and Prof. Chengying Jiang from IMCAS has been awarded funding for a CAS-NSTDA joint research program.
The MSP project currently demonstrating reassuring results that the droplet-enabled cultivation can effectively facilitate elucidation of underlying microbial interactions within the complex microbial communities in the environment.
Another collaborative research project from the joint lab (https://www.subwaydna.org) led by Dr. Supawadee Ingsriswang, BIOTEC, and Prof. Lei Cai, IMCAS has been granted funding from Alliance of International Science Organization (ANSO) to assess the relationship between subway air microbiomes and ambient environmental factors in cities with different climates, namely Bangkok and Beijing. In order to obtain sufficient quantity and quality of DNA from the low-biomass air samples, we are applying droplets microfluidics using MSP for enrichment of air microbiome strains.
With the current progress results, we foresee that the integration of eDNA and microfluidics technology will lead to discovery of the ”missing” microbial diversity in natural ecosystems. Furthermore, a panel of bioindicators could be developed based on microbial communities for monitoring of environmental changes. Finally, it can be seen that the MSP technology can be employed to facilitate the sustainable collaboration in the joint lab program and bring frontier microbiome research to the forefront of environmental quality monitoring and management.