Research ArticleMATERIALS SCIENCE

3D printing of bacteria into functional complex materials

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Science Advances  01 Dec 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 12, eaao6804
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao6804

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Abstract

Despite recent advances to control the spatial composition and dynamic functionalities of bacteria embedded in materials, bacterial localization into complex three-dimensional (3D) geometries remains a major challenge. We demonstrate a 3D printing approach to create bacteria-derived functional materials by combining the natural diverse metabolism of bacteria with the shape design freedom of additive manufacturing. To achieve this, we embedded bacteria in a biocompatible and functionalized 3D printing ink and printed two types of “living materials” capable of degrading pollutants and of producing medically relevant bacterial cellulose. With this versatile bacteria-printing platform, complex materials displaying spatially specific compositions, geometry, and properties not accessed by standard technologies can be assembled from bottom up for new biotechnological and biomedical applications.

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