Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Mass Transport and Structure Inside a Phototrophic Biofilm
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The aim of this study was to utilize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image structural heterogeneity and mass transport inside a biofilm which was too thick for photon based imaging. MRI was used to map water diffusion and image the transport of the paramagnetically tagged macromolecule, Gd-DTPA, inside a 2.5 mm thick cyanobacterial biofilm. The structural heterogeneity of the biofilm was imaged at resolutions down to 22 × 22 μm, enabling the impact of biofilm architecture on the mass transport of both water and Gd-DTPA to be investigated. Higher density areas of the biofilm correlated with areas exhibiting lower relative water diffusion coefficients and slower transport of Gd-DTPA, highlighting the impact of biofilm structure on mass transport phenomena. This approach has potential for shedding light on heterogeneous mass transport of a range of molecular mass molecules in biofilms.
This work was funded by a Lord Kelvin and Adam Smith Scholarship, University of Glasgow and funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/G028443/1). We thank Jim Mullen for his assistance with RF coil building and MRI experiments.
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