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Microbial Fuels Cell-Based Biosensor for Toxicity Detection: A Review

Ministry of Education, Key Laboratory of Cell Activities and Stress Adaptations, School of Life Science, Lanzhou University, Tianshui South Road #222, Lanzhou 730000, China
Department of Development Biology Sciences, School of Life Science, Lanzhou University, Tianshui South Road #222, Lanzhou 730000, China
Wuhan Optics Valley Bluefire New Energy Co., Ltd., Three Hubei Road, Wuhan East Lake Development Zone #29, Wuhan 430205, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Sensors 2017, 17(10), 2230;
Received: 29 July 2017 / Revised: 19 September 2017 / Accepted: 21 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Toxic and Pathogen Detection)
PDF [1384 KB, uploaded 28 September 2017]


With the unprecedented deterioration of environmental quality, rapid recognition of toxic compounds is paramount for performing in situ real-time monitoring. Although several analytical techniques based on electrochemistry or biosensors have been developed for the detection of toxic compounds, most of them are time-consuming, inaccurate, or cumbersome for practical applications. More recently, microbial fuel cell (MFC)-based biosensors have drawn increasing interest due to their sustainability and cost-effectiveness, with applications ranging from the monitoring of anaerobic digestion process parameters (VFA) to water quality detection (e.g., COD, BOD). When a MFC runs under correct conditions, the voltage generated is correlated with the amount of a given substrate. Based on this linear relationship, several studies have demonstrated that MFC-based biosensors could detect heavy metals such as copper, chromium, or zinc, as well as organic compounds, including p-nitrophenol (PNP), formaldehyde and levofloxacin. Both bacterial consortia and single strains can be used to develop MFC-based biosensors. Biosensors with single strains show several advantages over systems integrating bacterial consortia, such as selectivity and stability. One of the limitations of such sensors is that the detection range usually exceeds the actual pollution level. Therefore, improving their sensitivity is the most important for widespread application. Nonetheless, MFC-based biosensors represent a promising approach towards single pollutant detection. View Full-Text
Keywords: MFC; biosensors; toxicity detection; application; environmental monitoring MFC; biosensors; toxicity detection; application; environmental monitoring

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Zhou, T.; Han, H.; Liu, P.; Xiong, J.; Tian, F.; Li, X. Microbial Fuels Cell-Based Biosensor for Toxicity Detection: A Review. Sensors 2017, 17, 2230.

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