Online monitoring of water toxicity by use of bioluminescent reporter bacterial biochips

Tal Elad, Ronen Almog, Sharon Yagur-Kroll, Klimentiy Levkov, Sahar Melamed, Yosi Shacham-Diamand, Shimshon Belkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


We describe a flow-through biosensor for online continuous water toxicity monitoring. At the heart of the device are disposable modular biochips incorporating agar-immobilized bioluminescent recombinant reporter bacteria, the responses of which are probed by single-photon avalanche diode detectors. To demonstrate the biosensor capabilities, we equipped it with biochips harboring both inducible and constitutive reporter strains and exposed it to a continuous water flow for up to 10 days. During these periods we challenged the biosensor with 2-h pulses of water spiked with model compounds representing different classes of potential water pollutants, as well as with a sample of industrial wastewater. The biosensor reporter panel detected all simulated contamination events within 0.5-2.5 h, and its response was indicative of the nature of the contaminating chemicals. We believe that a biosensor of the proposed design can be integrated into future water safety and security networks, as part of an early warning system against accidental or intentional water pollution by toxic chemicals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8536-8542
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2011


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