Evaluation of water-borne toxicity using bioluminescent bacteria

B. C. Kim, Man Bock Gu, P. D. Hansen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the toxicity of field waters using a multi-channel continuous monitoring system in Berlin, Germany. This system uses genetically engineered bioluminescent bacteria for the assessment of the toxicity of soluble chemicals. It showed easy and long-term monitoring without any system shut down due to pollution overloading. We used the bioluminescent bacterial strains DPD2794, DPD2540, TV1061 and GC2, which respond respectively to DNA-, cell membrane-, protein-and general cellular-damaging agents. The bioluminescent levels either increase for DPD2794, DPD2540 and TV1061 strains, or decrease for the GC2 strain after being mixed with toxic samples. We monitored the toxicity over a period of two to three weeks at three different sites: the Ruhleben wastewater treatment plant discharge flow, and river flows at the Teltowkanal and Fischereiamt in Berlin. At all sites the DPD2540 and TV1061 strains showed a significant increase of bioluminescence while bioluminescence decreased for the GC2 strain. This result demonstrates the occurrence of chemicals that affect the integrity of the cellular membrane; leading to either protein denaturation and inhibiting cellular metabolism or to cell death. Therefore, our findings suggest that the bioluminescent bacteria array may serve as a novel water toxicity monitoring system in outdoor fields.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Chemistry: Green Chemistry and Pollutants in Ecosystems
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)3540228608, 9783540228608
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • bioluminescent bacteria
  • field water
  • multi-channel continuous monitoring
  • potential toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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    Kim, B. C., Gu, M. B., & Hansen, P. D. (2005). Evaluation of water-borne toxicity using bioluminescent bacteria. In Environmental Chemistry: Green Chemistry and Pollutants in Ecosystems (pp. 699-705). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-26531-7_64