Microfluidics has enabled a new era of cellular and molecular assays due to the small length scales, parallelization, and the modularity of various analysis and actuation functions. Droplet microfluidics, in particular, has been instrumental in providing new tools for biology with its ability to quickly and reproducibly generate drops that act as individual reactors. A notable beneficiary of this technology has been single-cell RNA sequencing, which has revealed new heterogeneities and interactions for the fundamental unit of life. However, viruses far surpass the diversity of cellular life, affect the dynamics of all ecosystems, and are a chronic source of global health crises. Despite their impact on the world, high-throughput and high-resolution viral profiling has been difficult, with conventional methods being limited to population-level averaging, large sample volumes, and few cultivable hosts. Consequently, most viruses have not been identified and studied. Droplet microfluidics holds the potential to address many of these limitations and offers new levels of sensitivity and throughput for virology. This Feature highlights recent efforts that have applied droplet microfluidics to the detection and study of viruses, including for diagnostics, virus-host interactions, and cell-independent virus assays. In combination with traditional virology methods, droplet microfluidics should prove a potent tool toward achieving a better understanding of the most abundant biological species on Earth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry