Development of an in-situ ß-D-Glucuronidase diagnostic moraxella-based biosensor for potential application in the monitoring of water polluted by faecal material in South Africa

by Togo, C.A.

Abstract (Summary)
The prevention of outbreaks of waterborne diseases remains a major challenge to public health service providers globally. One of the major obstacles in this effort is the unavailability of on-line and real-time methods for rapid monitoring of faecal pollution to facilitate early warning of contamination of drinking water. The main objective of this study was to develop a ?-glucuronidase (GUD)-based method that could be used for the on-line and real-time monitoring of microbial water quality. GUD is a marker enzyme for the faecal indicator bacteria Escherichia coli. This enzyme breaks down the synthetic substrate p-nitrophenyl-?-D-glucuronide (PNPG) to D-glucuronic acid and p-nitrophenol (PNP), which turns yellow under alkaline pH. The enzymatically produced PNP was used to detect GUD activity. In situ GUD assays were performed using running and stagnant water samples from the Bloukrans River, Grahamstown, South Africa. The physico-chemical properties of environmental GUD were determined, after which a liquid bioprobe and a microbial biosensor modified with Moraxella 1A species for the detection of the enzyme activity were developed. In order to determine the reliability and sensitivity of these methods, regression analyses for each method versus E. coli colony forming units (CFU) were performed. The storage stabilities of the bioprobe and biosensor were also investigated. The physico-chemical properties of in situ GUD were different from those of its commercially available counterpart. The temperature optimum for the former was between 35 and 40 °C while for the latter it was 45 °C. Commercial (reference) GUD had a pH optimum of 8.0 while the environmental counterpart exhibited a broad pH optimum of between pH 5.0 and 8.0. The liquid bioprobe had a limit of detection (LOD) of GUD activity equivalent to 2 CFU/100 ml and a detection time of 24 h. The method was less labour intensive and costly than the culturing method. The liquid bioprobe was stable for at least four weeks at room temperature (20 ± 2 °C). The biosensor was prepared by modifying a glassy carbon electrode with PNP degrading Moraxella 1A cells. The biosensor was 100 times more sensitive and rapid (5-20 min) than the spectrophotometric method (24 h), and was also able to detect GUD activity of viable but non-culturable cells. Thus it was more sensitive than the culturing method. Furthermore, the biosensor was selective and costeffective. The possibility of using a Pseudomonas putida JS444 biosensor was also investigated, but it was not as sensitive and selective as the Moraxella 1A biosensor. The Moraxella biosensor, therefore, offered the best option for on-line and real-time microbial water quality monitoring in South African river waters and drinking water supplies.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:biochemistry microbiology biotechnology


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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