Detector tracks toxic algae blooms in drinking water

A biosensor recently developed at Lund University in Sweden claims to be able to detect substances at 10,000 times lower concentrations than what is currently possible.

PhD student Lesedi Lebogang has developed what the university has called a “super detector” which it is hoped could be used to detect toxic algae blooms in drinking water.

The detector uses a sensor which picks up small biochemical signals which are then amplified and converted into measurable electric signals. Lebogang was able to further develop the sensor by using adding antibody chemicals that track toxins in cyanobacteria. When the bacteria burst, they release a variety of toxins that the antibodies respond to, and the sensor reacts.

”Adapting the analytical system to a real life situation was the most challenging part of the research”, explains Lebogang.

Toxic algae, or cyanobacteria, is seen increasingly around the world, as a result of over-fertilization and global warming, said the University.

It is hoped this “practical application that could be particularly helpful in warm climates such as Africa, Australia and the southern United States, where drinking water is affected”.

 

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