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J Biomed Opt. 2019 Feb;24(5):1-11. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.24.5.051412.

Bioluminescence of Vibrio fischeri: bacteria respond quickly and sensitively to pulsed microwave electric (but not magnetic) fields.

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Cardiff University, School of Engineering, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.
Cardiff University, School of Biosciences, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.


Biological systems with intrinsic luminescent properties serve as powerful and noninvasive bioreporters for real-time and label-free monitoring of cell physiology. This study employs the bioluminescent marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri to investigate the effects of separated microwave electric (E) and magnetic (H) fields. Using a cylindrical TM010 mode aluminum resonant cavity, designed to spatially separate E and H fields of a pulsed microwave (2.45 GHz) input, we sampled at 100-ms intervals the 490-nm emission of bioluminescence from suspensions of the V. fischeri. E-field exposure (at 4.24 and 13.4 kV/m) results in rapid and sensitive responses to 100-ms pulses. H-field excitation elicits no measurable responses, even at 100-fold higher power input levels (equivalent to 183 A/m). The observed effects on bacterial light output partially correlate with measured E-field-induced temperature increases. In conclusion, the endogenous bioluminescence of V. fischeri provides a sensitive and noninvasive method to assess the biological effects of microwave fields.


bioreporter; electromagnetic; noninvasive; nonthermal; thermal


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