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Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Vol. 45, 2017, Pages: 59–68

Cell culture-based biosensing techniques for detecting toxicity in water

Lu Tan, Kristin Schirmer

Department of Environmental Toxicology, Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 133, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.


The significant increase of contaminants entering fresh water bodies calls for the development of rapid and reliable methods to monitor the aquatic environment and to detect water toxicity. Cell culture-based biosensing techniques utilise the overall cytotoxic response to external stimuli, mediated by a transduced signal, to specify the toxicity of aqueous samples. These biosensing techniques can effectively indicate water toxicity for human safety and aquatic organism health. In this review we account for the recent developments of the mainstream cell culture-based biosensing techniques for water quality evaluation, discuss their key features, potentials and limitations, and outline the future prospects of their development.

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