Bioluminescent fiber-optic biosensors to genotoxicants and mercury



Marks, R.S.


The Institute for Applied Biosciences; Ben Gurion University of the Negev

P.O.Box 653; Beer-Sheva 84105; Israel


972-8-6477182 (phone); 972-8-6472857 (fax)




Conservation of water resources calls for stricter regulatory measures and better monitoring systems. Whole-cell bacterial sensors have been genetically engineered by Prof. Shimshon Belkin (Hebrew University) and Dr. Marko Virta (Turku University) to react to target toxicants by the induction of a selected promoter and the subsequent production of bioluminescent light through a recombinant lux reporter. Our laboratory has designed a one-step assay, that is self-contained, disposable and based on an optical fiber sensor module that integrates these microorganisms and a customized photodetector system. A first generation field-operable single photon-counting photomultiplier tube-based instrument has been constructed and tested in the field. Optical fiber cores and endfaces were covered with multiple adlayer films consisting of calcium alginate containing bioluminescent bacterial bioreporters to genotoxicants or mercury. These whole cell optrodes have been shown to be responsive to external traces of DNA damaging agents, such as mitomycin C or inorganic mercury. Light production is dose-dependent and proportional to the number of bacterial layers.  Our system has been tested at TECHNOTOX in both Mol (Belgium), lake Kinneret and at the Hackensack Meadowlands in New Jersey (USA) using both spiked and real life samples.



Polyak, B., E. Bassis, A. Novodvorets, S. Belkin and R.S. Marks (2000) Bioluminescent optical fiber sensors to genotoxicants: optimization studies. Sensors and Actuators. B 3656: 1-9.


Polyak, B., E. Bassis, A. Novodvorets, S. Belkin and R.S. Marks (2000) Optical fiber bioluminescent whole-cell microbial biosensors to genotoxicants. Water Science and Technology. 42 (1-2) 305-311.


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