Growth, Distribution, and Photosynthesis of Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii in 3D Hydrogels

Jeong Joo Oh, Satya Ammu, Vivian Dorine Vriend, Roland Kieffer, Friedrich Hans Kleiner, Srikkanth Balasubramanian, Elvin Karana, Kunal Masania*, Marie Eve Aubin-Tam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Engineered living materials (ELMs) are a novel class of functional materials that typically feature spatial confinement of living components within an inert polymer matrix to recreate biological functions. Understanding the growth and spatial configuration of cellular populations within a matrix is crucial to predicting and improving their responsive potential and functionality. Here, this work investigates the growth, spatial distribution, and photosynthetic productivity of eukaryotic microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (C. reinhardtii) in three-dimensionally shaped hydrogels in dependence of geometry and size. The embedded C. reinhardtii cells photosynthesize and form confined cell clusters, which grow faster when located close to the ELM periphery due to favorable gas exchange and light conditions. Taking advantage of location-specific growth patterns, this work successfully designs and prints photosynthetic ELMs with increased CO2 capturing rate, featuring high surface to volume ratio. This strategy to control cell growth for higher productivity of ELMs resembles the already established adaptations found in multicellular plant leaves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2305505
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • 3D printing
  • CO consumption
  • engineered living material
  • functional living surface
  • hydrogel
  • microalgae
  • spatial organization


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