The emergence of insect odorant receptor-based biosensors

Jonathan D. Bohbot*, Sefi Vernick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The olfactory receptor neurons of insects and vertebrates are gated by odorant receptor (OR) proteins of which several members have been shown to exhibit remarkable sensitivity and selectivity towards volatile organic compounds of significant importance in the fields of medicine, agriculture and public health. Insect ORs offer intrinsic amplification where a single binding event is transduced into a measurable ionic current. Consequently, insect ORs have great potential as biorecognition elements in many sensor configurations. However, integrating these sensing components onto electronic transducers for the development of biosensors has been marginal due to several drawbacks, including their lipophilic nature, signal transduction mechanism and the limited number of known cognate receptor-ligand pairs. We review the current state of research in this emerging field and highlight the use of a group of indole-sensitive ORs (indolORs) from unexpected sources for the development of biosensors.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number26
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • Bioelectronic nose
  • Biosensor
  • Carbon nanotube field-effect transistor (CNT-FET)
  • Indole
  • Odorant receptor (OR)
  • Skatole
  • Volatile organic compound (VOC)


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