We describe a simple, scalable, modular, and frugal approach to create model ecosystems as millifluidic networks of interconnected habitats (hosting microbes or plants), which offers (i) quantitative and dynamic control over the exchange of chemicals between habitats, and (ii) independent control over their environment. Oscillatory laminar flows produce regions of vortex mixing around obstacles. When these overlap, rapid mass transport by dispersion occurs, which is quantitatively describable as diffusion, but is directional and tunable in rate over 3 orders of magnitude. This acceleration in the rate of diffusion is equivalent to reducing the distance between the habitats, and therefore, the organisms, down to the length scales characteristic of signaling in soil (< 2 mm).
HOMEs for plants and microbes - a phenotyping approach with quantitative control of signaling between organisms and their individual environments / Siemianowski, O; Lind, KR; Tian, XC; Cain, M; Xu, SZ; Ganapathysubramanian, B; Cademartiri, L. - In: LAB ON A CHIP. - ISSN 1473-0197. - 18:4(2018), pp. 620-626. [10.1039/c7lc01186e]
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