NSTI Nanotech 2009

Phage reporter biosensing of pathogenic agents

S. Ripp
University of Tennessee, US

Keywords: bacteriophage, bioluminescence, quorum sensing, pathogen


Considered the most abundant organism on Earth, at a population approaching 1031, bacteriophage mediate interactions with myriad bacterial hosts that has for decades been exploited in phage typing schemes for signature identification of clinical, foodborne, and waterborne pathogens. More recently, this basic premise of phage/host specificity has been advanced via phage-mediated signaling elements that indicate when a phage/host infection event has occurred, thereby providing a very simple and rapid means for bacterial recognition. We have, for example, linked the bacterial bioluminescent (lux) response to phage/host infection using quorum sensing chemical synthesis as a signaling intermediary. This permits facile light-based sensing of E. coli O157:H7 at concentrations as low as 1 cfu/ml. With the concurrent ability to nanointerface reporter assays onto integrated circuit microluminometers, the potential exists for the development of phage-based sentinel microchips that can function as environmental monitors for multiplexed recognition of biological agents in air, food, and water.
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