Team:UTDallas/Background EnvironmentalBiosensors


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Environmental Biosensors

A biosensor is any “device for the detection of an analyte that combines a biological component with a physicochemical detector component” [1] consisted of a sensor, a detector, and a signal processor. The use of biosensors is important in the detection of varying chemicals that induce reactions on promoters in gene sequences thus emitting a form of measurable output. The advantages of environmental biosensors over the current methods are the portability, relatively low cost, and environmentally friendly characteristics of microorganisms over bulky equipment. Biosensors have potential to be maintained on-site able to monitor conditions continuously in the soil or marine environments without significant effort being placed into the maintenance as is customary in expensive equipment that must be maintained and used by skilled workers.

For traditional “offsite” laboratory testing, the samples must be sent in, proving to be a costly and ineffective method. The new trend towards biosensors aims to “provide fast, reliable, and sensitive measurements with lower cost; many of them aimed at on-site analysis.” [2] Most biosensor systems have focused on the use of bacterial organisms, while the use of eukaryotic organisms is rare. One particular concern is the presence of water-soluble aromatic components of petroleum products in drinking water that often persist in the environment. [2]

According to The Department of Environmental Biochemistry in Barcelona, “Genetic engineering provides an elegant way not only for providing unlimited amounts of biorecognition molecules, but also for the alteration of existing properties and the supplementation with additional functions”, which addresses our project directly.[2]