Aubin-Tam Lab

Department                             Bionanoscience

Principal investigator          Marie-Eve Aubin-Tam

E-mail address             



 Microfluidics for the formation of freestanding asymmetric lipid bilayers

The goal of this project is to develop a novel, robust method to form stable asymmetric freestanding lipid membranes. Cell membrane asymmetric structure controls several biological phenomena like enzyme activities, vesicle budding, signal-transduction, etc. Specifically, it affects the membrane’s mechanical properties such as bending rigidity which directly controls protein folding and activity. Mechanical properties of asymmetric membranes also contribute to cell morphogenesis and vesicle formation.


  • How to design and fabricate microfluidic chips
  • Working with lipids and making artificial asymmetric cell membranes
  • Fluorescent microscopy and image processing
  • Data analysis


3D patterning of photosynthetic living materials

Nature fabricates materials with remarkable properties, having the ability to grow, move and sense their environment. Such dynamic and interactive materials are in strong contrast with man-made synthetic materials, which are far less functional and which tend to require a large energy input for their fabrication and use. For this reason, a recent trend in materials science is to use living organisms for materials fabrication. Living cells themselves are now also incorporated in materials to form so called living materials. A precise and dynamic 3D organisation of materials is important both in synthetic engineered devices and in living organisms (mammals, plants, etc.), and represents an important sought-after feature of living materials.


  • 3D patterning
  • Tuning material properties of the matrix
  • Pulse amplitude fluorescence measurements
  • Cell count and cell morphology assessment


Production of biomimetic materials with the use of microorganisms

Biomaterials in the natural world provide an abundant source of inspiration for the design of novel high-performance materials. Nacre consists of stacked layers of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) separated by thin 20nm layers of sticky elastic biopolymer. This layered confers exceptional mechanical properties. Our approach is to exploit synthetic biology to self-assemble artificial nacre with bacteria.


  • Biomimetics
  • Measurement of mechanical properties
  • Synthetic biology


Fibrous flagellar hairs as mechanosensors during swimming

The green microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has long served as the model organism for studies on the structure, assembly, and function of eukaryotic flagella. Decades ago, their flagella were observed to possess nanometer thick fibers known as mastigonemes. These structures were believed to enhance flagellar thrust, but our recent study proved otherwise. Specifically, we found that mutants lacking these structures swim at the same speed and generate the same hydrodynamic thrust. However, the mutants without mastigonemes were observed to swim more erratically, with significantly higher rates of turning. These observations, along with a recent report of mastigonemes being physically connected to the axonemes of the flagella (Liu, et al 2020 J Cell Biol), lead us to hypothesize that these structures may function as mechanosensors that help regulate swimming behavior.


  • High speed fluorescence microscopy
  • Cell culturing
  • Delivery of molecular dyes
  • Microfluidic device design
  • Molecular biological tools
  • Image analysis