Surface water used for drinking water production is frequently monitored in The Netherlands using whole organism biomonitors, with for example Daphnia magna or Dreissena mussels, which respond to changes in the water quality. However, not all human-relevant toxic compounds can be detected by these biomonitors. Therefore, a new on-line biosensor has been developed, containing immobilized genetically modified bacteria, which respond to genotoxicity in the water by emitting luminescence. The performance of this sensor was tested under laboratory conditions, as well as under field conditions at a monitoring station along the river Meuse in The Netherlands. The sensor was robust and easy to clean, with inert materials, temperature control and nutrient feed for the reporter organisms. The bacteria were immobilized in sol-gel on either an optical fiber or a glass slide and then continuously exposed to water. Since the glass slide was more sensitive and robust, only this setup was used in the field. The sensor responded to spikes of genotoxic compounds in the water with a minimal detectable concentration of 0.01 mg/L mitomycin C in the laboratory and 0.1 mg/L mitomycin C in the field. With further optimization, which should include a reduction in daily maintenance, the sensor has the potential to become a useful addition to the currently available biomonitors.
- Water monitoring