Nonequilibrium Spatiotemporal Sensing within Acoustically Patterned Two-Dimensional Protocell Arrays

Liangfei Tian, Mei Li, Juntai Liu, Avinash J. Patil, Bruce W. Drinkwater, Stephen Mann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
285 Downloads (Pure)


Acoustically trapped periodic arrays of horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-loaded poly(diallydimethylammonium chloride) / adenosine 5'-triphosphate coacervate microdroplet-based protocells exhibit a spatiotemporal biochemical response when exposed to a codiffusing mixture of substrate molecules (o-phenylenediamine (o-PD) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)) under nonequilibrium conditions. Unidirectional propagation of the chemical concentration gradients gives rise to time- and position-dependent fluorescence signal outputs from individual coacervate microdroplets, indicating that the organized protocell assembly can dynamically sense encoded information in the advancing reaction-diffusion front. The methodology is extended to arrays comprising spatially separated binary populations of HRP- or glucose oxidase-containing coacervate microdroplets to internally generate a H2O2 signal that chemically connects the two protocell communities via a concerted biochemical cascade reaction. Our results provide a step toward establishing a systematic approach to study dynamic interactions between organized protocell consortia and propagating reaction-diffusion gradients, and offer a new methodology for exploring the complexity of protocellular communication networks operating under nonequilibrium conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1551-1558
Number of pages8
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number11
Early online date14 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2018


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