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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2006 Feb;17(1):43-9. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

Advances in preservation methods: keeping biosensor microorganisms alive and active.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Box 7025, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.


The ability of bacteria to sense their surroundings can be employed to measure the bioavailability and toxicity of pollutants. However, long-term maintenance of both viability and activity of the sensor bacteria is required for the development of cell-based devices for environmental monitoring. To meet these demands, various techniques to conserve such bacteria have been reported, including freeze drying, vacuum drying, continuous cultivation, and immobilisation in biocompatible polymers of organic or inorganic origin. Much effort has been invested in merging these bacterial preservation schemes with the construction of sensor cell arrays on platforms such as biochips or optic fibres, hopefully leading to effective miniaturised whole-cell biosensor systems. These approaches hold much promise for the future. Nevertheless, their eventual implementation in practical devices calls for significant enhancement of current knowledge on formulation of reporter microorganisms.

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