Watching for water contamination

  • The mechanisms to eventually create two biosensors are being developed as part of the ‘2012 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition’ to detect bacterial pathogens in waterways that affect both animals and humans such as E. coli.
  • The first probe targets DNA and will produce a colour change upon detection of the target pathogen, while the second uses pathogen-specific membrane binding to identify contaminated water, again with a colour change indicating a positive detection.
  • The hope is that the study will produce reliable, portable and low cost detection options for problematic aquatic pathogens, especially in remote areas, developing countries and following natural disasters.

This technology could provide a cheap, easy means to test water quality to ensure waterways in protected areas are safe for wildlife and humans to drink. It could perhaps also be used to trace back to the source of a pathogen entering the waterway.

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About annaarathe

Research fellow, horizon scanning
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