Open cultivation systems to monoculture microorganisms are promising for the commercialization of low-value commodities because they reduce the cultivation cost. However, contamination from biological pollutants frequently impedes the process. Here we propose a cultivation method using hollow hydrogel microfibers encapsulating microorganisms. Due to the pore size, hydrogels allow nutrients and waste to pass through while preventing invading microorganisms from entering the microfiber. Experimental cultivation shows the growth of target bacteria inside the alginate hydrogel microfiber during exposure to invading bacteria. The membrane thickness of the microfiber greatly affects the bacterial growth due to changes in membrane permeability. The enhancement of mechanical toughness is also demonstrated by employing a double-network hydrogel for long-term cultivation. The hollow hydrogel microfiber has the potential to become a mainstream solution for mass-cultivation of microorganisms in an open system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas