We use synthetic biology to develop customized living sensors for the continuous monitoring of water. Our platform provides real-time, quantitative information about water quality for long time periods with minimal oversight. 

Water Quality Sensors

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As global freshwater supplies become impacted, water quality is an increasingly critical concern. Human activity has introduced toxins, including heavy metals and excessive nutrients, into many natural water supplies across the globe. We use a combination of native cellular pathways and synthetic biology techniques to engineer bacteria that produce measurable responses in the presence of various toxins.  

Our process combines this synthetic biology with microfluidic technology and computational classification to develop a highly sensitive and specific platform for sensing contaminants in water. We use microfluidics to integrate many independent sensor strains within a self-contained platform that can continuously monitor water supplies for contamination.  Our device consists of an array of cell strain chambers connected in parallel, each supporting the long-term culturing of an individual sensor strain. We then use machine learning models to correlate the sensor responses with a quantitative measure of a specific toxin’s concentration.  The flexibility of our approach provides a framework for future expansion and customization.