FACS-based isolation of slowly growing cells: Double encapsulation of yeast in gel microdrops

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Isolating hyperproducing cells is important in biotechnology, but these cells usually grow slowly and can be overgrown by poorly producing cells. We describe a new method of isolating slowly growing cells from among rapidly growing cells, which has the potential for automation and high throughput (e.g., 100,000 cells/h). A model system is presented consisting of a mixed population of slowly growing mutant and rapidly growing wild-type yeast, which were encapsulated in double agarose gel microdrops (dGMDs); with most dGMDs initially containing single cells. Double encapsulation locates parent cells near dGMD centers, making microcolony measurement more accurate. After a 15-h incubation, fluorescent activated cell sorting was used to analyze and sort dGMDs with small microcolonies (slow growers) from dGMDs with large microcolonies (rapid growers). Successful isolation of slow growers from a mixed population of predominantly rapidly growing Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells was achieved.

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