The potential applications of SOS-lux biosensors for rapid screening of mutagenic chemicals

Hani A. Alhadrami*, Graeme I. Paton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The environmental fate and potency of mutagenic compounds is of growing concern. This has necessitated the development and application of rapid assays to screen large numbers of samples for their genotoxic and carcinogenic effects. Despite the development of biosensors for genotoxicity assessment, these have not been calibrated against traditional microbial bioassays. In this study, assays using the SOS-lux-marked microbial biosensors Escherichia coli K12C600 and E. coli DPD1718 were refined and optimised to screen selected mutagenic chemicals. The response of the biosensors was compared with the mutagenic response of the traditional Salmonella mutagenicity assay. For the chemicals tested (acridine, B[a]A, B[a]P, chrysene, mitomycin C and sodium azide), E. coli DPD1718 was consistently more sensitive than E. coli K12C600. The biosensors were of comparable sensitivity to the Salmonella assay but were more rapid, reproducible and easier to measure. These data validate the adoption of optimised assays making use of microbial biosensors for routine screening of test chemicals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
Early online date1 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank Dr. Petra Rettberg and
Dr. Ying Zhang for providing the biosensors strains.
Dr. Matt Aitkenhead is also acknowledged for developing
the colony counter software. The government of Saudi
Arabia is acknowledged for funding this project.


  • Bioluminescent bacteria
  • Mutagenicity
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Salmonella assay
  • SOS-lux biosensors


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