Whole cell luminescence biosensor based lab-on-chip integrated system for water toxicity analysis

Arthur Rabner*, Shimshon Belkin, Rachel Rozen, Yosi Shacham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


A novel water chemical toxin sensor has been successfully developed and evaluated as a working portable laboratory prototype. This sensor relies on a disposable plastic biochip prepared with a 4×4 micro-laboratory (μLab) chambers array of Escherichia coli reporter cells and micro-fluidic channels for liquids translocation. Each bacterial strain has been genetically modified into a bioluminescent reporter that responds to a pre-determined class of chemical agents. When challenged with a water sample containing a toxic chemical, the sensor responds with an increased bioluminescent signal from the biochip that is monitored over time. The signal is received by a motorized photomultiplier- based analyzer and interpreted by signal processing software. We have performed several levels of analysis: (i) the change in the bioluminescent signal from the sensor bacteria serves as a rapid indication for the presence of toxic chemicals in the water sample; (ii) the intensity of the change indicates the toxin concentration level; and (iii) the pattern of the responses for the different members of the bacterial panel on the biochip characterizes the biological origin of the toxin. The analyzer contains housing mechanics, electro-optics for signal acquisition, motorized readout calibration accessories, hydro-pneumatics modules for water sample translocation into biochip micro laboratories, electronics for overall control and communication with the host computer. This prototype has a demonstrated sensitivity for broad classes of water-borne toxic chemicals including naladixic acid (a model genotoxic agent), botulinum and acetylcholine esterase inhibitors. This work has initiated an investigation of a novel handheld field-deployable Water Toxicity Analysis (WTA) device.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2006
EventMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IV - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: 23 Jan 200625 Jan 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IV
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Biochip
  • Bioluminescence
  • Biosensor
  • Micro-fluidics
  • Micro-laboratory
  • Photon counting
  • Toxicity


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