Evaluation of water-borne toxicity using bioluminescent bacteria

B. C. Kim, M. B. Gu, P. D. Hansen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the toxicity of field waters using a multi-channel continuous monitoring system in Berlin, Germany. This system uses genetically engineered bioluminescent bacteria for the assessment of the toxicity of soluble chemicals. It showed easy and long-term monitoring without any system shut down due to pollution overloading. We used the bioluminescent bacterial strains DPD2794, DPD2540, TV1061 and GC2, which respond respectively to DNA-, cell membrane-, protein-and general cellular-damaging agents. The bioluminescent levels either increase for DPD2794, DPD2540 and TV1061 strains, or decrease for the GC2 strain after being mixed with toxic samples. We monitored the toxicity over a period of two to three weeks at three different sites: the Ruhleben wastewater treatment plant discharge flow, and river flows at the Teltowkanal and Fischereiamt in Berlin. At all sites the DPD2540 and TV1061 strains showed a significant increase of bioluminescence while bioluminescence decreased for the GC2 strain. This result demonstrates the occurrence of chemicals that affect the integrity of the cellular membrane; leading to either protein denaturation and inhibiting cellular metabolism or to cell death. Therefore, our findings suggest that the bioluminescent bacteria array may serve as a novel water toxicity monitoring system in outdoor fields.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Chemistry
Subtitle of host publicationGreen Chemistry and Pollutants in Ecosystems
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)3540228608, 9783540228608
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • bioluminescent bacteria
  • field water
  • multi-channel continuous monitoring
  • potential toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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