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Sensors 2008, 8(7), 4062-4080;

Bacterial Biosensors for Measuring Availability of Environmental Pollutants

Department of Fundamental Microbiology, Bâtiment Biophore, Quartier UNIL-Sorge, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 May 2008 / Revised: 6 July 2008 / Accepted: 9 July 2008 / Published: 10 July 2008
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Switzerland)
Full-Text   |   PDF [726 KB, uploaded 21 June 2014]


Traditionally, pollution risk assessment is based on the measurement of a pollutant’s total concentration in a sample. The toxicity of a given pollutant in the environment, however, is tightly linked to its bioavailability, which may differ significantly from the total amount. Physico-chemical and biological parameters strongly influence pollutant fate in terms of leaching, sequestration and biodegradation. Bacterial sensorreporters, which consist of living micro-organisms genetically engineered to produce specific output in response to target chemicals, offer an interesting alternative to monitoring approaches. Bacterial sensor-reporters detect bioavailable and/or bioaccessible compound fractions in samples. Currently, a variety of environmental pollutants can be targeted by specific biosensor-reporters. Although most of such strains are still confined to the lab, several recent reports have demonstrated utility of bacterial sensing-reporting in the field, with method detection limits in the nanomolar range. This review illustrates the general design principles for bacterial sensor-reporters, presents an overview of the existing biosensor-reporter strains with emphasis on organic compound detection. A specific focus throughout is on the concepts of bioavailability and bioaccessibility, and how bacteria-based sensing-reporting systems can help to improve our basic understanding of the different processes at work. View Full-Text
Keywords: whole-cell living bioreporters; luciferase; gfp; beta-galactosidase; bioremediation; synthetic biology. whole-cell living bioreporters; luciferase; gfp; beta-galactosidase; bioremediation; synthetic biology.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Tecon, R.; Van der Meer, J.R. Bacterial Biosensors for Measuring Availability of Environmental Pollutants. Sensors 2008, 8, 4062-4080.

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