Whole-Cell Bioreporters for the Detection of Bioavailable Metals

Anu Hynninen, Marko Virta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review


Whole-cell bioreporters are living microorganisms that produce a specific, quantifiable output in response to target chemicals. Typically, whole-cell bioreporters combine a sensor element for the substance of interest and a reporter element coding for an easily detectable protein. The sensor element is responsible for recognizing the presence of an analyte. In the case of metal bioreporters, the sensor element consists of a DNA promoter region for a metal-binding transcription factor fused to a promoterless reporter gene that encodes a signal-producing protein. In this review, we provide an overview of specific whole-cell bioreporters for heavy metals. Because the sensing of metals by bioreporter microorganisms is usually based on heavy metal resistance/homeostasis mechanisms, the basis of these mechanisms will also be discussed. The goal here is not to present a comprehensive summary of individual metal-specific bioreporters that have been constructed, but rather to express views on the theory and applications of metal-specific bioreporters and identify some directions for future research and development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Biochemical Engineering, Biotechnology
Pages (from-to)31-63
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Fields of Science

  • 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology

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