Fast fabrication of reusable polyethersulfone microbial biosensors through biocompatible phase separation

N. Vigués, F. Pujol-Vila, J. Macanás, M. Muñoz, X. Muñoz-Berbel, J. Mas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In biosensors fabrication, entrapment in polymeric matrices allows efficient immobilization of the biorecognition elements without compromising their structure and activity. When considering living cells, the biocompatibility of both the matrix and the polymerization procedure are additional critical factors. Bio-polymeric gels (e.g. alginate) are biocompatible and polymerize under mild conditions, but they have poor stability. Most synthetic polymers (e.g. PVA), on the other hand, present improved stability at the expense of complex protocols involving chemical/physical treatments that decrease their biological compatibility. In an attempt to explore new solutions to this problem we have developed a procedure for the immobilization of bacterial cells in polyethersulfone (PES) using phase separation. The technology has been tested successfully in the construction of a bacterial biosensor for toxicity assessment.

Biosensors were coated with a 300 gm bacteria-containing PES membrane, using non-solvent induced phase separation (membrane thickness approximate to 300 mu m). With this method, up to 2.3 x 10(6) cells were immobilized in the electrode surface with an entrapment efficiency of 8.2%, without compromising cell integrity or viability. Biosensing was performed electrochemically through ferricyanide respirometry, with metabolically-active entrapped bacteria reducing ferricyanide in the presence of glucose. PES biosensors showed good stability and reusability during dry frozen storage for up to 1 month. The analytical performance of the sensors was assessed carrying out a toxicity assay in which 3,5-dichlorophenol (DCP) was used as a model toxic compound. The biosensor provided a concentration-dependent response to DCP with half-maximal effective concentration (EC50) of 9.2 ppm, well in agreement with reported values. This entrapment methodology is susceptible of mass production and allows easy and repetitive production of robust and sensitive bacterial biosensors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120192
Pages (from-to)120192
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Bacterial immobilization
  • Microbial biosensor
  • Phase separation
  • Polyethersulfone
  • Respirometry
  • Toxicity assessment

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