Development and validation of an on-linewater toxicity sensor with immobilized luminescent bacteria for on-line surface water monitoring

Marjolijn Woutersen, Bram Van Der Gaag, Afua Abrafi Boakye, Jan Mink, Robert S. Marks, Arco J. Wagenvoort, Henk A.M. Ketelaars, Bram Brouwer, Minne B. Heringa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surface water used for drinking water production is frequently monitored in The Netherlands using whole organism biomonitors, with for example Daphnia magna or Dreissena mussels, which respond to changes in the water quality. However, not all human-relevant toxic compounds can be detected by these biomonitors. Therefore, a new on-line biosensor has been developed, containing immobilized genetically modified bacteria, which respond to genotoxicity in the water by emitting luminescence. The performance of this sensor was tested under laboratory conditions, as well as under field conditions at a monitoring station along the river Meuse in The Netherlands. The sensor was robust and easy to clean, with inert materials, temperature control and nutrient feed for the reporter organisms. The bacteria were immobilized in sol-gel on either an optical fiber or a glass slide and then continuously exposed to water. Since the glass slide was more sensitive and robust, only this setup was used in the field. The sensor responded to spikes of genotoxic compounds in the water with a minimal detectable concentration of 0.01 mg/L mitomycin C in the laboratory and 0.1 mg/L mitomycin C in the field. With further optimization, which should include a reduction in daily maintenance, the sensor has the potential to become a useful addition to the currently available biomonitors.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2682
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number11
StatePublished - 22 Nov 2017


  • Bacteria
  • Biosensor
  • Genotoxicity
  • Luminescence
  • Water monitoring

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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