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Whole-cell bacterial bioreporter for actively searching and sensing of alkanes and oil spills

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Dayi Zhang
  • Yi He
  • Yun Wang
  • Hui Wang
  • Lin Wu
  • Eric Aries
  • Wei E. Huang
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Microbial Biotechnology
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)87-97
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 was found to tolerate seawater and have a special ability of adhering to an oilwater interface of 1080 mu m emulsified mineral and crude oil droplets. These properties make ADP1 an ideal bacterial chassis for constructing bioreporters that are able to actively search and sense oil spill in water and soils. Acinetobacter baylyi bioreporter ADPWH_alk was developed and applied to the detection of alkanes and alkenes in water, seawater and soils. Bioreporter ADPWH_alk was able to detect a broad range of alkanes and alkenes with carbon chain length from C7 to C36. So far, ADPWH_alk is the only bioreporter that is able to detect alkane with carbon chain length greater than C18. This bioreporter responded to the alkanes in about 30 min and it was independent to the cell growth phase because of two point mutations in alkM promoter recognized by alkane regulatory protein ALKR. ADPWH_alk was applied to detect mineral oil, Brent, Chestnut and Sirri crude oils in water and seawater in the range 0.1100 mg l-1, showing that the bioreporter oil detection was semi-quantitative. This study demonstrates that ADPWH_alk is a rapid, sensitive and semi-quantitative bioreporter that can be useful for environmental monitoring and assessment of oil spills in seawater and soils.