Biological Systems Engineering, Department of


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Date of this Version



J. Mater. Chem. B, 2014, 2, 7896–7909


This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2014. Used by permission


Thin layers and patterned dot arrays of sodium alginate containing living microalgal cells were deposited onto glass carriers which were subsequently gelled using amino-functionalized silica sol to obtain reinforced alginate hydrogels. The resulting alginate/silica hybrid materials showed improved stability in salt-containing solutions compared to alginate gels gelled by traditional methods using Ca2+-ions. Cell arrays were patterned by printing nanolitre-scale drops of sodium alginate/cell suspension using a noncontact micro-dosage system which allows the printing of solutions of high viscosity. Cultures of the green microalga Chlorella vulgaris were immobilized within the newly developed alginate/silica hydrogels in order to demonstrate the potential of the hybrid matrix for the design of cell-based detection systems. The herbicide atrazine as well as copper ions have been used as model toxicants. Short-term toxicity tests (exposure time: 1 h) have been carried out using atrazine and changes in chlorophyll a (Chl a) fluorescence were measured by imaging pulse amplitude modulated-fluorometry (Imaging-PAM). C. vulgaris cells immobilized within alginate/silica hydrogels demonstrated a highly reproducible response pattern and compared well to freely suspended cells. Activity and response sensitivity of immobilized cells to atrazine was largely maintained for up to 8 weeks, especially when stored under cool conditions in the dark. Furthermore, immobilized cells could be repeatingly used for short-term toxicity tests as atrazine produces a reversible inhibition of photosynthesis.