X Close

IIT Roorkee develops biosensor to detect harmful detergent pollutant


DEHRADUN:  A five-member team from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee have developed the world’s first specific reliable bacterial biosensor that can detect the presence of common environmental pollutant: Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS).

These are extensively used in soaps, toothpaste, creams, shampoos, laundry detergents, agricultural operations, laboratories and industries. However, its disposal in waterways has negatively impacted aquatic organisms and microcosms, besides deteriorating the quality of drinking water.

Until now, there were no specific biosensors to detect SDS with high precision. Researchers from IIT Roorkee developed a whole-cell biosensor using Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 strain as a framework (chassis). 

This system involved a highly specific regulator along with a fluorescent protein that is produced only when SDS is present in the sample. The particular system can even detect 0.1 ppm of SDS in aquatic samples.

This biosensor is highly specific for SDS and has minimal interference from other detergents, metals and inorganic ions present in the environment.

Unlike conventional methods, it can easily distinguish between closelyrelated detergents-SDS and SodiumDodecylbenzenesulfonate (SDBS). “The highlight of this biosensor is its sensitivity to even minute quantities of SDS in the environment and its ability to distinguish between SDS and SDBS” said Professor Naveen Kumar Navani.

“Pseudomonads have an inherent capability to be used as an optimal destination framework for synthetic biology applications.

The selected species of Pseudomonas can be engineered to detect various chemicals owing to their resilient nature to survive and adapt to harsh environmental conditions.

The highlight of this research is the development of the world’s first whole-cell bacterial biosensor for the direct, specific and efficient detection of SDS without involving sample preparation steps, toxic chemicals, sophisticated polymers and sensor development steps” said Sourik Dey, lead author of the study.

The biosensor showed a satisfactory and reproducible recovery rate for the detection of SDS in real samples of sewage water, river water, and pond water. Overall, this is a selective and reliable biosensor for monitoring SDS in the environment.