Bacterial biosensors for rapid and effective monitoring of biodegradation of organic pollutants in wastewater effluents
Significant amounts of toxic substances which are hazardous to animals, plants, microorganisms, and other living organisms including humans are released annually into aquatic and terrestrial environments, mostly from improper wastewater discharges. Early detection of such pollutants in wastewater effluents and proper monitoring before their final release into the environment is therefore necessary. In this study, two whole-cell bacterial biosensors were constructed by transforming competent cells of Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei with pLUX plasmids and evaluated for their potential to monitor wastewater samples undergoing degradation by measuring bioluminescence response using a microplate luminometer. Both bacterial biosensors were found to be extremely sensitive to the wastewater samples, with different patterns, concomitant with those of the COD removals demonstrated at the different days of the degradation. Generally higher bioluminescence values were obtained at the later days of the degradation period compared to the initial values, with up to 571.76% increase in bioluminescence value obtained at day 5 for 0.1% (v/v) effluent concentration. Also, a steady decrease in bioluminescence was observed for the bacterial biosensors with increasing time of exposure to the wastewater effluent for all the sampling days. These biosensor constructs could therefore be applicable to indicate the bioavailability of pollutants in a way that chemical analysis cannot, and for in situ monitoring of biodegradation. This has great potential to offer a risk assessment strategy in predicting the level of bioremediation required during municipal wastewater treatment before their final discharge into the aquatic milieu.