Whole-cell-based biosensors for environmental biomonitoring and application.

Man Bock Gu, Robert J. Mitchell, Byoung Chan Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


A variety of whole-cell-based biosensors has been developed using numerous native and recombinant biosensing cells. The use of reporter genes, for example bacterial luciferase and gfp, to monitor gene expression is discussed in terms of each reporters' benefits and disadvantages, including their possible use on-line, their sensitivity, the need for extra substrate, etc. All biosensing cells in use can be classified into two groups in terms of their biosensing mechanisms--constitutive expression and stress- or chemical-specific inducible expression. In this review several examples of each are presented and discussed. The use of recombinant whole-cell biosensors in the field requires three components--biosensing cells, a measurement device, and a signal-transducing apparatus, the last two depending on the first and the final applications of the system. The use of different immobilization techniques in several studies to maintain the cells and their viability is also discussed, in particular their use in the development of both high-throughput and chip-based biosensing systems. Finally the application of whole-cell-based biosensors to different environmental media, such as water, soil, and atmospheric monitoring is discussed; particular attention is given to their use for detection of various stressors, including dioxins, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and ionizing radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-305
Number of pages37
JournalAdvances in biochemical engineering/biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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