Istituto di Cristallografia - CNR

A Proof-of-Concept Electrochemical Cytosensor Based on Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Functionalized Carbon Black Screen-Printed Electrodes: Detection of Escherichia coli in Wastewater as a Case Study

Herein, we report a proof-of-concept algal cytosensor for the electrochemical quantification of bacteria in wastewater, exploiting the green photosynthetic alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii immobilized on carbon black (CB) nanomodified screen-printed electrodes. The CB nanoparticles are used as nanomodifiers, as they are able to sense the oxygen produced by the algae and thus the current increases when algae are exposed to increasing concentrations of bacteria. The sensor was tested on both standard solutions and real wastewater samples for the detection Escherichia coli in a linear range of response from 100 to 2000 CFU/100 mL, showing a limit of detection of 92 CFU/100 mL, in agreement with the maximum E. coli concentration established by the Italian law for wastewater (less than 5000 CFU/100 mL). This bacterium was exploited as a case study target of the algal cytosensor to demonstrate its ability as an early warning analytical system to signal heavy loads of pathogens in waters leaving the wastewater treatment plants. Indeed, the cytosensor is not selective towards E. coli but it is capable of sensing all the bacteria that induce the algae oxygen evolution by exploiting the effect of their interaction. Other known toxicants, commonly present in wastewater, were also analyzed to test the cytosensor selectivity, with any significant effect, apart from atrazine, which is a specific target of the D1 protein of the Chlamydomonas photosystem II. However, the latter can also be detected by chlorophyll fluorescence simultaneously to the amperometric measurements. The matrix effect was evaluated, and the recovery values were calculated as 105 ± 8, 83 ± 7, and 88 ± 7% for 1000 CFU/100 mL of E. coli in Lignano, San Giorgio, and Pescara wastewater samples, respectively.

Biosensors (Basel)
Impact factor
Antonacci A.; Arduini F.; Attaallah R.; Amine A.; Giardi M.T.; Scognamiglio V.