Development and application of a synthetically-derived lead biosensor construct for use in gram-negative bacteria Academic Article uri icon


  • The use of lead in manufacturing has decreased significantly over the last few decades. However, previous widespread use of lead-containing products and their incorrect disposal has resulted in environmental contamination. Accumulation of harmful quantities of lead pose a threat to all living organisms, through inhalation, ingestion, or direct contact, resulting in lead poisoning. This study utilized synthetic biology principles to develop plasmid-based whole-cell bacterial biosensors for detection of lead. The genetic element of the lead biosensor construct consists of pbrR, which encodes the regulatory protein, together with its divergent promoter region and a promoterless gfp. GFP expression is controlled by PbrR in response to the presence of lead. The lead biosensor genetic element was cloned onto a low-copy number broad host range plasmid, which can stably exist in a range of laboratory and environmental isolates, including Pseudomonas, Shewanella, and Enterobacter. The biosensors constructed were found to be sensitive, rapid, and specific and could, as such, serve as monitoring tools for lead-contaminated water.

publication date

  • 2016