In Vivo Plant Bio-Electrochemical Sensor Using Redox Cycling

Tali Dotan, Aakash Jog, Kian Kadan-Jamal, Adi Avni, Yosi Shacham-Diamand*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work presents an in vivo stem-mounted sensor for Nicotiana tabacum plants and an in situ cell suspension sensor for Solanum lycopersicum cells. Stem-mounted sensors are mechanically stable and less sensitive to plant and air movements than the previously demonstrated leaf-mounted sensors. Interdigitated-electrode-arrays with a dual working electrode configuration were used with an auxiliary electrode and an Ag/AgCl quasi-reference electrode. Signal amplification by redox cycling is demonstrated for a plant-based sensor responding to enzyme expression induced by different cues in the plants. Functional biosensing is demonstrated, first for constitutive enzyme expression and later, for heat-shock-induced enzyme expression in plants. In the cell suspension with redox cycling, positive detection of the enzyme β-glucuronidase (GUS) was observed within a few minutes after applying the substrate (pNPG, 4-Nitrophenyl β-D-glucopyranoside), following redox reactions of the product (p-nitrophenol (pNP)). It is assumed that the initial reaction is the irreversible reduction of pNP to p-hydroxylaminophenol. Next, it can be either oxidized to p-nitrosophenol or dehydrated and oxidized to aminophenol. Both last reactions are reversible and can be used for redox cycling. The dual-electrode redox-cycling electrochemical signal was an order of magnitude larger than that of conventional single-working electrode transducers. A simple model for the gain is presented, predicting that an even larger gain is possible for sub-micron electrodes. In summary, this work demonstrates, for the first time, a redox cycling-based in vivo plant sensor, where diffusion-based amplification occurs inside a tobacco plant’s tissue. The technique can be applied to other plants as well as to medical and environmental monitoring systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number219
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


FundersFunder number
Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions
Department of Public Policy
Manna Centre for Food Security
Ministry of Science, Technology and Space
Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities1616/17 YS, 550/18 AA
Israel Science Foundation
Tel Aviv University590351
Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel0002085, 01030360


    • electrochemical biosensing
    • heat shock plant sensor
    • in vivo plant sensors
    • plant-based functional sensor
    • redox cycling


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