3D Printing of Bacteria

The Meyer lab is developing first-of-their-kind bacterial 3D printers that can deposit engineered bacteria in specific three-dimensional patterns using simple devices and chemistries. We can create stacked printed layers of bacteria (<1 mm in thickness) with negligible mixing of bacteria between layers.

The 3D printer offers enormous flexibility to position bacteria both laterally and vertically on the printing substrate. We plan to take advantage of this flexibility to design new patterned materials produced by the printed bacteria.

Bacteria can be printed in arbitrary patterns with high precision

Different bacteria can be stably stacked on top of each other or combined in a single layer

Genetically engineered bacteria can be printed and then induced to produce the biofilm protein CsgA. These engineered bacteria stick to the printed surface even after the printing scaffold is dissolved away, showing that the biofilm matrix has formed. These model biofilms will be applied to develop new anti-biofilm treatments, or to create beneficial biofilms that could be used for water purification or mineral extraction.


Genes can be expressed by the bacteria in the printing scaffold, creating patterned materials.

An artificial biofilm created by printing bacteria engineered to express the biofilm protein CsgA.

•Schmieden DT, Basalo Vasquez S, Sanguesa H, van der Does M, Idema T, Meyer AS. Printing of patterned, engineered E. coli biofilms with a low-cost 3D printer. ACS Synthetic Biology (2018),

•Lehner BAE, Schmieden DT, Meyer AS. A straightforward approach for 3D bacterial printing. ACS Synthetic Biology (2017), 6:1124-1130. The #1 most-read article at ACS Synthetic Biology of 2017