Genetically engineered microbial biosensors, capable of detecting traces of explosives residues above buried military ordnance and emitting an optical signal in response, may potentially serve for the standoff detection of buried landmines. A promising candidate for such an application is a previously reported Escherichia coli-based reporter strain that employs the yqjF gene promoter as its sensing element; however, for this sensor to be able to detect actual landmines reliably, it was necessary for its detection sensitivity and signal intensity to be enhanced. In this study, a high-throughput approach was employed to screen the effects of individual gene deletions on yqjF activation by 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT). Several genes were identified, the deletion of which elicited a significant enhancement of yqjF induction by DNT. The most promising of these mutations were introduced into the sensor strain, individually or in pairs, yielding a considerable increase in signal intensity and a lowering of the detection threshold. A strain harboring two of the identified mutations, ygdD and eutE, appears to be the most sensitive microbial biosensor currently described for the detection of traces of landmine explosives.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.
- 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene (TNT)
- 2,4-Dinitotoluene (DNT)
- Microbial bioreporter