Quantification of the bioreactive Hg fraction in Chinese soils using luminescence-based biosensors

Bo Zhang*, Guoxin Sun, Yongguan Zhu, Graeme Iain Paton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The fraction of a metal that is both available to a target organism and is capable of imposing a measurable effect can be described as the "bioreactive fraction". The development of assays using bacterial based biosensors for the assessment of metal bioreactivity in soils and water has evolved over the past decade. Two Hg induced biosensors, calibrated using aqueous Hg doses, were applied to Hg amended and historically contaminated soils. Complementary to this, a constitutively marked biosensor was used to assess the effect of co-contaminants. The Hg induced biosensors were capable of detecting less than 0.37 μg l-1 of Hg in the amended aqueous samples. The response of the Hg induced biosensors to Hg amended soil water and soil enabled a dose response to be developed allowing a prediction of Hg bioreactivity. There was a positive relationship (R2>0.85) between the Hg concentration in soil waters and the bioreactive Hg as detected by the biosensors. When the Hg induced biosensor was applied to historically contaminated soils, the response of the constitutively marked biosensor and the pre-defined calibration response allowed an estimation of Hg bioreactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-276
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Technology and Innovation
Early online date5 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

We thank Marko Virta and Tamar Barkay for providing the Hg induced biosensors. We also gratefully acknowledge the financial support from China Scholarship Council.


  • Bioavailability
  • Bioreactivity
  • Hg
  • Hg induced biosensors
  • Metal analysis
  • Soil


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantification of the bioreactive Hg fraction in Chinese soils using luminescence-based biosensors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this