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Whole-cell paper strip biosensors to semi-quantify tetracycline antibiotics in environmental matrices

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Published copy (DOI)



Publication details

JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
DateAccepted/In press - 19 Aug 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2020
DatePublished (current) - 15 Nov 2020
Number of pages26
Pages (from-to)1-26
Early online date27/08/20
Original languageEnglish


A novel, low-cost, and portable paper strip biosensor was developed for the detection of tetracycline antibiotics. Escherichia coli/pMTLacZ containing the tetracycline-mediated regulatory gene used as recognition elements with β-galactosidase as the reporter protein was designed and applied to cheap and portable Whatman filter paper as the carrier to prepare this paper strip biosensor. The detection process was optimized by using EDTA and polymyxin B as a sensitizer to improve the accuracy of detection for complicated matrices. The paper strip biosensor was suitable for tetracycline concentrations in the range of 75–10000 μg/L in water and 75–7500 μg/L in soil extracts. Detection limits of 5.23–17.1 μg/L for water and 5.21–35.3 μg/kg for the EDTA soil extracts were achieved at a response time of 90 min. The standard deviation (SD) of detected values by the biosensor paper strip compared to those determined by HPLC was between 13.4 and 59.6% for tetracycline and 2.01–33.5% for oxytetracycline in water and was between 6.22 and 72.8% for tetracycline and 5.90–43.4% for oxytetracycline in soil. This suggests that the paper strip biosensor was suitable for detecting both tetracycline and oxytetracycline in water, and could provide a suitable detection for extractable oxytetracycline in soils. Therefore, this biosensor provides a simple, economical, and portable piece of field kit for on-site monitoring of tetracyclines in a variety of environmental samples, such as pond water and agricultural soil that are susceptible to tetracycline pollution from feed additives and fertilization with livestock manure.

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© 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Detection, Paper strip, Semi-quantity, Soil, Tetracyclines, Water

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