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IIT Roorkee Develops World’s First Specific Bacterial Biosensor To Detect Environmental Pollutant

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Dehradun: A five-member team from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee 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.

As of 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).

“We have developed a biosensor to detect the presence of harmful detergent (SDS ) in the environment after redesigning the DNA in bacteria (which gives signal in the form of a green fluorescent protein. 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 (sodium dodecybenzenesulfonate),” said Naveen Kumar Navani, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Roorkee.

“This is the world’s first whole-cell bacterial biosensor for direct, specific and efficient detection of SDS, without involving sample preparation steps, toxic chemicals, sophisticated polymers and sensor development steps” said Sourik Dey, final year MSc student at IIT Roorkee and lead author of the study that announced discovery of the biosensor.

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.

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