Functional characterization of Gram-negative bacteria from different genera as multiplex cadmium biosensors Academic Article uri icon


  • Widespread presence of cadmium in soil and water systems is a consequence of industrial and agricultural processes. Subsequent accumulation of cadmium in food and drinking water can result in accidental consumption of dangerous concentrations. As such, cadmium environmental contamination poses a significant threat to human health. Development of microbial biosensors, as a novel alternative method for in situ cadmium detection, may reduce human exposure by complementing traditional analytical methods. In this study, a multiplex cadmium biosensing construct was assembled by cloning a single-output cadmium biosensor element, cadRgfp, and a constitutively expressed mrfp1 onto a broad-host range vector. Incorporation of the duplex fluorescent output [green and red fluorescence proteins] allowed measurement of biosensor functionality and viability. The biosensor construct was tested in several Gram-negative bacteria including Pseudomonas, Shewanella and Enterobacter. The multiplex cadmium biosensors were responsive to cadmium concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 10µgml-1, as well as several other heavy metals, including arsenic, mercury and lead at similar concentrations. The biosensors were also responsive within 20-40min following exposure to 3µgml-1 cadmium. This study highlights the importance of testing biosensor constructs, developed using synthetic biology principles, in different bacterial genera.


publication date

  • 2017