Identification of bacteria by poly-aromatic hydrocarbon biosensors

Yaniv Shlosberg*, Yair Farber, Salah Hasson, Valery Bulatov, Israel Schechter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Human health is consistently threatened by different species of pathogenic bacteria. To fight the spread of diseases, it is important to develop rapid methods for bacterial identification. Over the years, different kinds of biosensors were developed for this cause. Another environmental risk is poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that may be emitted from industrial facilities and pollute environmental water and soil. One of the methods for their purification is conducted by the addition of bacteria that can degrade the PAHs, while the bacteria can be filtrated at the end of the process. Although many studies reported monitoring of the PAHs degradation by fluorescence, not much attention was dedicated to studying the influence of the PAHs on the intrinsic fluorescence of the degrading bacteria. In this work, we apply synchronous fluorescence (SF) measurements to study the ability of the 5 PAHs: 9-Antracene carboxylic acid (9ACA), Pyrene, Perylene, Pentacene, and Chrysene to interact with bacteria and change its fluorescence spectra. We show that upon incubation of each PAH with the bacterium E. coli, only the 2 PAHs 9ACA and Perylene cause an intensity decrease in the emission at λ = 300–375 nm, which derives from the emission of tyrosine and tryptophan (TT). Also, we show that upon incubation of 9ACA and Perylene with 5 different pathogenic bacteria, the intensity increase or decrease in the TT emission is unique to each bacterial species. Based on this observation, we suggest that the PAHs 9ACA and Perylene can be utilized as biosensors for bacterial identification. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3153-3160
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacteria
  • Identification
  • Perylene
  • Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Synchronous fluorescence


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