Aptasensors have a great potential for environmental monitoring, particularly for real-time on-site detection of aquatic toxins produced by marine and freshwater microorganisms (cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, and diatoms), with several advantages over other biosensors that are worth considering. Freshwater monitoring is of vital importance for public health, in numerous human activities, and animal welfare, since these toxins may cause fatal intoxications. Similarly, in marine waters, very effective monitoring programs have been put in place in many countries to detect when toxins exceed established regulatory levels and accordingly enforce shellfish harvesting closures. Recent advances in the fields of aptamer selection, nanomaterials and communication technologies, offer a vast array of possibilities to develop new imaginative strategies to create improved, ultrasensitive, reliable and real-time devices, featuring unique characteristics to produce and amplify the signal. So far, not many strategies have been used to detect aquatic toxins, mostly limited to the optic and electrochemical sensors, the majority applied to detect microcystin-LR using a target-induced switching mode. The limits of detection of these aptasensors have been decreasing from the nM to the fM order of magnitude in the past 20 years. Aspects related to sensor components, performance, aptamers sequences, matrices analyzed and future perspectives, are considered and discussed.
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