An unexpected discovery of 1,4-benzoquinone as a lipophilic mediator for toxicity detection in water
Since most toxicological risk assessments are based on individual single-species tests, there is uncertainty in extrapolating these results to ecosystem assessments. Herein, we successfully developed a mediated microbial electrochemical biosensor for toxicity detection by microelectrode array (MEA) and mixed microorganism. In order to fully mobilize all the mixed microorganisms to participate in electron transfer to amplify the current signal, 1,4-benzoquinone (BQ) was tried as the lipophilic mediator to mediate the intracellular metabolic activities. Hydrophilic K3[Fe(CN)6] was employed as an extracellular electron acceptor to transport electrons from hydroquinone (HQ) to the working electrode. Under the optimal conditions of 50 mM phosphate buffer solution (PBS), 0.4 mM BQ, 10 mM K3[Fe(CN)6] and OD600 = 0.5 bacteria concentration, the half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values measured with the composite-mediated respiration (CM-RES) of BQ–K3[Fe(CN)6] for Cu2+, Cd2+ and Zn2+ were 5.95, 7.12 and 8.86 mg/L, respectively. The IC50 values obtained with the single mediator K3[Fe(CN)6] were 2.34, 5.88 and 2.42 mg/L for the same samples. The results indicate that the biosensor with the single K3[Fe(CN)6] had higher sensitivity to heavy metal ions than the biosensor with the composite mediators. After verification, we found that the addition of BQ cannot amplify the current. The IC50 value of 0.89 mg/L for BQ was obtained using K3[Fe(CN)6] as single mediator. This suggests that BQ has highly toxic, which explained why the sensitivity of the biosensor with combined mediator of BQ–K3[Fe(CN)6] was lower than that of the biosensor with single K3[Fe(CN)6]. At the same time, this also implies that itself toxicity cannot be ignored when it is used as an electronic mediator in a mediated microbial electrochemical biosensor.