, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 265–272 | Cite as

An engineered GFP fluorescent bacterial biosensor for detecting and quantifying silver and copper ions

  • Adam Radek Martinez
  • John R. Heil
  • Trevor C. CharlesEmail author


Presented here are two engineered bacterial biosensors for detecting and quantifying silver and copper ions. The biosensors contain a silver/copper resistance operon and a Green Fluorescent Protein gene that is strictly regulated through silver activated promoter regions normally found on a silver resistance gene (sil operon). The two biosensors efficiently detected silver and copper concentrations of 40 µM–300 µM and 20 µM–600 µM respectively. A strong correlation (R2 = 0.90 or above) between silver/copper and GFP signal makes it possible to quantify the ions using a linear regression. At room temperature incubation, the GFP signal of the biosensors in Ag+ saturated after 13 h. However, a detectable GFP signal was seen in 4 h.


Biosensors Two-component systems Silver Copper Environmental monitoring 



This work was partially supported by a NSERC Discovery Grant. J.R.H was a Mitacs Elevate Fellowship recipient. We are grateful to Dr. Alex O’Neill of University of Leeds for the generous gift of strain J53(pMG101). In addition, we are grateful to Dr. Marc Habash at the University of Guelph for discussions and suggestions pertaining to the development of the biosensor.

Supplementary material

10534_2019_179_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 37 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Waterloo Centre for Microbial ResearchUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Metagenom Bio IncTorontoCanada
  4. 4.University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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