A novel toxicity fingerprinting method for pollutant identification with lux-marked biosensors

N. L. Turner, Alison Margaret Horsburgh, Graeme Iain Paton, Kenneth Stuart Killham, Andrew Alexander Meharg, S. Primrose, Norval James Colin Strachan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


A novel technique is described for the identification and quantification of environmental pollutants based on toxicity fingerprinting with a metabolic lux-marked bacterial biosensor. This method involved characterizing the toxicity-based responses of the biosensor to seven calibration pollutants as acute temporal-dose response fingerprints. An algorithm is described to allow comparisons of responses of an unknown pollutant to be made against the calibration data. This is based on predicting pollutant concentration at each of six different time points over the course of a 5-min assay. If the prediction is consistent between the unknown pollutant and a calibration pollutant at the 95% test level, this is considered to be a positive identification. All seven calibration pollutants could be successfully distinguished from each other with this technique. Environmental samples, individually spiked with single concentrations of pollutants, were compared in this way against the calibration pollutants. An 83% identification success was achieved, with no false positives at the 95% test level. This is a simple and rapid technique that potentially can be applied to monitoring of industrial wastewater or as a screening tool for regulators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2456-2461
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • toxicity fingerprinting
  • lux-marked biosensor


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