3rd generation whole animal biosensors

The development of 3rd generation biosensors is aimed at environmental monitoring of marine environments connected to the oil and gas industry, with the possibility of application in other areas such as monitoring river estuaries, on-shore industrial sites and harbors.

Real-time environmental monitoring with biosensors has been available for more than 20 years, and has been widely applied to monitoring of drinking water and acute discharges. These 1st generation biosensors have been developed to monitor responses such as heart rate, valve gape, tension field and oxygen consumption. The modernization of these sensors led to the development of 2nd generation biosensors. Limitations with these sensors, such as low sensitivity to low-dose exposure and complex mixtures of toxic substances, generated a need for a next generation of biosensors that are more sensitive and can be integrated into the IO-center (Integrated Operations) of companies. In addition, the new technology measures fitness end-parameters that can be utilized in established environmental risk assessment models.

Two new biosensors are under development and will monitor growth and the uptake of energy (via clearance rate) of filter feeders. These end parameters are normally included in the ERA (EU Technical Guidelines) of discharges and the population parameters are very sensitive for pollution. The technology is based on measuring the growth by laser diffraction, which is looking at the differences in the diffraction pattern made by a laser beam directed at the edge of the shell of a mussel. As the shell grows, the laser beam will gradually bend and create a pattern that changes over time. A design set-up for installation in water is shown in Fig 1. Sensitive laser-based sensors for determining clearance rate can also be installed here, making it possible to measure multiple parameters on the same individual. These will measure the parameters used for calculating the clearance rate; water flow, volume of particles going into the gill area of the filter feeder and the particle volume going out of the siphon.

Mussels will be used as test organisms since they are already well established in the monitoring of the water column offshore. Some experiments will also be carried out by implementing Iceland scallop as a representative for communities at deeper depths and the Barents Sea.

Figure 1.

Figure 1. Model set-up