A Sensitive Magnetic Arsenite-Specific Biosensor Hosted in Magnetotactic Bacteria - CEA - Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives Access content directly
Journal Articles Applied and Environmental Microbiology Year : 2020

A Sensitive Magnetic Arsenite-Specific Biosensor Hosted in Magnetotactic Bacteria


According to the World Health Organization, arsenic is the water contaminant that affects the largest number of people worldwide. To limit its impact on the population, inexpensive, quick, and easy-to-use systems of detection are required. One promising solution could be the use of whole-cell biosensors, which have been extensively studied and could meet all these criteria even though they often lack sensitivity. Here, we investigated the benefit of using magnetotactic bacteria as cellular chassis to design and build sensitive magnetic bacterial biosensors. Promoters potentially inducible by arsenic were first identified in silico within the genomes of two magnetotactic bacteria strains, Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 and Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1. The ArsR-dependent regulation was confirmed by reverse transcription-PCR experiments. Biosensors built by transcriptional fusion between the arsenic-inducible promoters and the bacterial luciferase luxCDABE operon gave an element-specific response in 30 min with an arsenite detection limit of 0.5 mu M. After magnetic concentration, we improved the sensitivity of the biosensor by a factor of 50 to reach 10 nM, more than 1 order of magnitude below the recommended guidelines for arsenic in drinking water (0.13 mu M). Finally, we demonstrated the successful preservation of the magnetic bacterium biosensors by freeze-drying. IMPORTANCE Whole-cell biosensors based on reporter genes can be designed for heavy metal detection but often require the optimization of their sensitivity and specific adaptations for practical use in the field. Magnetotactic bacteria as cellular hosts for biosensors are interesting models, as their intrinsic magnetism permits them to be easily concentrated and entrapped to increase the arsenic-response signal. This paves the way for the development of sensitive and immobilized whole-cell biosensors tailored for use in the field.

Dates and versions

cea-02961464 , version 1 (08-10-2020)



Anissa Dieudonné, Sandra Prévéral, David Pignol. A Sensitive Magnetic Arsenite-Specific Biosensor Hosted in Magnetotactic Bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2020, 86 (14), ⟨10.1128/AEM.00803-20⟩. ⟨cea-02961464⟩
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