Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 58, Issue 4–5, pp 440–448

Development of a novel conductance-based technology for environmental bacterial sensing

Open Access
Invited Article Environmental Chemistry


In this study, a simple impedance based technology for measuring bacterial concentrations was developed. The measurement system includes the signal amplification, copper probes and a sample loader. During the experiments, the conductance of Bacillus subtilis var niger, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Escherichia coli were measured using the combination of a pre-amplifier and a lock-in amplifier. The conductance data were modeled verses the bacterial concentrations. Results indicated that the relationship between the conductance of bacterial suspensions and their concentrations follows a generic model: \(Y = C_1 + C_2 \times e^{\left( { - X/C_3 } \right)}\), where Y is the conductance (S), X is the bacterial concentration (Number/mL: abbreviated to N/mL) for all species tested, and C1–3 are constants. Gram negative P. fluorescens and E. coli assumed similar conductance curves, which were flatter than that of gram positive B. subtilis var niger. For P. fluorescens and E. coli the culturing technique resulted in higher concentration levels (statistically significant) from 2 to 4 times that measured by the impedance based technology. For B. subtilis var niger, both methods resulted in similar concentration levels. These differences might be due to membrane types, initial culturability and the obtained conductance curves. The impedance based technology here was shown to obtain the bacterial concentration instantly, holding broad promise in realtime monitoring biological agents.


bacterial impedance conductance bioaerosol bacterial concentrations 

Supplementary material

11434_2012_5621_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (409 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 409 KB.


  1. 1.
    Yang L, Bashir R. Electrical/electrochemical impedance for rapid detection of foodborne pathogenic bacteria. Biotechnol Adv, 2008, 26: 135–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Peccia J, Hernandez M. Incorporating polymerase chain reaction-based identification, population characterization, and quantification of microorganisms into aerosol science: A review. Atmos Environ, 2006, 40: 3941–3961CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Peccia J, Milton D K, Reponen T, et al. A role for environmental engineering and science in preventing bioaerosol-related disease. Environ Sci Technol, 2008, 42: 4631–4637Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Suehiro J, Ohtsubo A, Hatano T, et al. Selective detection of bacteria by a dielectrophoretic impedance measurement method using an antibody-immobilized electrode chip. Sens Actuators, B, 2006, 119: 319–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Yang L. Electrical impedance spectroscopy for detection of bacterial cells in suspensions using interdigitated microelectrodes. Talanta, 2008, 74: 1621–1629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Yang L, Li Y, Erf G F. Interdigitated array microelectrode-based electrochemical impedance immunosensor for detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7. Anal Chem, 2004, 76: 1107–1113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wu J, Ben Y, Chang H C. Particle detection by electrical impedance spectroscopy with asymmetric-polarization AC electroosmotic trapping. Microfluid Nanofluid, 2005, 1: 161–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Suehiro J, Hamada R, Noutomi D, et al. Selective detection of viable bacteria using dielectrophoretic impedance measurement method. J Electrostat, 2003, 57: 157–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    DeSilva M S, Zhang Y, Hesketh P J, et al. Impedance based sensing of the specific binding reaction between Staphylococcus enterotoxin B and its antibody on an ultra-thin platinum film. Biosens Bioelectron, 10: 675–682Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Noble P A, Dziuba M, Harrison D J, et al. Factors influencing capacitance-based monitoring of microbial growth. J Microbiol Method, 1999, 37: 51–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Silleyand P, Mortimer F. In: Easter M C, ed. Rapid Microbiological Methods in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2003. 99Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pethig R, Markx G H. Applications of dielectrophoresis in biotechnology. Trends Biotechnol, 1997, 15: 426–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Silley P, Forsythe S. Impedance microbiology-A rapid change for microbiologists. J Appl Bacteriol, 1996, 80: 233–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wawerla M, Stolle A, Schalch B, et al. Impedance microbiology: Applications in food hygiene. J Food Prot, 1999, 62: 1488–1496Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Van Der Wal A, Minor M, Norde W, et al. Conductivity and dielectric dispersion of gram-positive bacterial cells. J Colloid Interface Sci, 1997, 186: 71–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wilson W W, Wade M M, Holman S C, et al. Status of methods for assessing bacterial cell surface charge properties based on zeta potential measurements. J Microbiol Method, 2011, 43: 153–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wheeler T G, Goldschmidt M C. Determination of bacterial cell concentrations by electrical measurements. J Clin Microbiol, 1975, 1: 25–29Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zhu T, Pei Z, Huang J, et al. Detection of bacterial cells by impedance spectra via fluidic electrodes in a microfluidic device. Lab Chip, 2010, 10: 1557–1560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Beck J D, Shang L, Li B, et al. Discrimination between Bacillus species by impedance analysis of individual dielectrophoretically positioned spores. Anal Chem, 2008, 80: 3757–3761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gershman M D, Kennedy D J, Noble-Wang J. Multistate outbreak of Pseudomonas fluorescens bloodstream infection after exposure to contaminated heparinized saline flush prepared by a compounding pharmacy. Clin Infect Dis, 2008, 47: 1372–1379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Yeaman M R, Yount N Y. Mechanisms of antimicrobial peptide action and resistance. Pharmacol Rev, 2003, 55: 27–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Yang L, Ruan C, Li Y. Detection of viable Salmonella typhimurium by impedance measurement of electrode capacitance and medium resistance. Biosens Bioelectron, 2003, 19: 495–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Li K, Dong S, Wu Y, et al. Comparisons of biological contents in the air samples collected from the ground and an altitude of 238 m. Aerobiologia, 2010, 26: 233–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Schwencke J, Far’s G, RojasEur M. The release of extracellular enzymes from yeast by osmotic shock. J Biochem, 1971, 21: 137–143Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Warth A D, Ohye D F, Murrel W G. The composition and structure of bacterial spores. J Cell Biol, 1963, 16: 579–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Carstensen E L, Marquis R E, Child S Z, et al. Dielectric properties of native and decoated spores of Bacillus megaterium. J Bacteriol, 1979, 140: 917–928Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Mainelis G, Willeke K, Baron P, et al. Electrical charges on airborne microorganisms. J Aerosol Sci, 2001, 32: 1087–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wang D, He J, Rosenzweig N, et al. Superparamagnetic Fe2O3 Beads-CdSe/ZnS quantum dots core-shell nanocomposite particles for cell separation. Nano Lett, 2004, 4: 409–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Mechanical and Electrical EngineeringBeijing Union UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Reproductive HealthGuangdong Women and Children HospitalGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.South China Institute of Environmental ScienceMinistry of Environmental ProtectionGuangzhouChina

Personalised recommendations