Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 70, Issue 3, pp 273–280 | Cite as

Whole-cell living biosensors—are they ready for environmental application?

  • Hauke HarmsEmail author
  • Mona C. Wells
  • Jan Roelof van der Meer


Since the development of the first whole-cell living biosensor or bioreporter about 15 years ago, construction and testing of new genetically modified microorganisms for environmental sensing and reporting has proceeded at an ever increasing rate. One and a half decades appear as a reasonable time span for a new technology to reach the maturity needed for application and commercial success. It seems, however, that the research into cellular biosensors is still mostly in a proof-of-principle or demonstration phase and not close to extensive or commercial use outside of academia. In this review, we consider the motivations for bioreporter developments and discuss the suitability of extant bioreporters for the proposed applications to stimulate complementary research and to help researchers to develop realistic objectives. This includes the identification of some popular misconceptions about the qualities and shortcomings of bioreporters.


Arsenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Arsenite Signalling Chain Chemical Flux 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hauke Harms
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mona C. Wells
    • 2
  • Jan Roelof van der Meer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental MicrobiologyUFZ Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle GmbHLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryTennessee Technological UniversityCookevilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Fundamental MicrobiologyUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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