Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 4, pp 1205–1216 | Cite as

Optical microalgal biosensors for aqueous contaminants using organically doped silica as cellular hosts

  • Nada Ben Ahmed
  • Sylvie Masse
  • Guillaume Laurent
  • Jean-Yves Piquemal
  • Claude Yéprémian
  • Roberta BraynerEmail author
  • Thibaud CoradinEmail author
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Microbial Biosensors for Analytical Applications


Optical biosensors for the detection of toxic species in aqueous media were developed via the encapsulation of microalgae in sol–gel matrices. In a first step, the effect of cadmium(II), lead(II), and anthracene on the chlorophyll a fluorescence intensity of Anabaena flos-aquae, Chlorella vulgaris, and Euglena gracilis microalgae in suspension was studied. Complementary ATP-metry measurements demonstrated a direct relationship between optical response and pollutant toxicity, in a cell- and dose-dependent manner. In a second step, microalgae were successfully encapsulated in silicate–colloidal silica nanocomposite matrices. However, a complete loss of cell response to pollutant addition was observed, despite the preservation of cell viability. Introduction of a low amount (5 mol%) of amine- or ethyl-bearing silanes in the matrix formulation allowed the recovery of the sensing capacity of the immobilized microalgae, without impacting on the response time (30 s). Porosimetry and 29Si solid-state NMR spectroscopy showed that the organic moieties are fully integrated into the inorganic network, tuning the ability of the target pollutant to diffuse and reach the encapsulated algae. This versatile strategy could be useful for the easy and fast assessment of contamination levels in polluted waters.

Graphical Abstract

Microalgal biosensors for aqueous contaminants using organically doped silica as cellular hosts


Biosensors Microalgae Hybrid materials Contaminated water 



N.B.’s PhD studies were funded by the French Ministry for Superior Education and Research. The authors thank G. Thouand (GEnie des Procédés Environnement - Agroalimentaire (GEPEA), Université de Nantes) and B. Lebeau (Institut des Sciences des Matériaux de Mulhouse (ISMM), Université de Haute Alsace) for fruitful discussions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2017_405_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 3049 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nada Ben Ahmed
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sylvie Masse
    • 1
  • Guillaume Laurent
    • 1
  • Jean-Yves Piquemal
    • 2
  • Claude Yéprémian
    • 3
  • Roberta Brayner
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thibaud Coradin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Sorbonne Universités, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CNRS, Collège de FranceParisFrance
  2. 2.Sorbonne Paris Cité, Interfaces, Traitements, Organisation et Dynamique des Systèmes, UMR 7086, CNRSParis-Diderot UniversityParisFrance
  3. 3.Département RDDM, UMR 7245, Unité MCAMMuséum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance

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