MARSENSE – Electrochemical biosensor for monitoring organic contaminants in marine environment


Teresa Rocha


Projetos de Investigação Científica e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico em Todos os Domínios Científicos - 2017


01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Funding for CESAM

153764 €

Total Funding

239015 €

Participating Institutions

  • INESC - Microsystems and Nanotechnologies

Several types of pollutants released to the environment by anthropogenic or natural sources can strongly affected the seawater quality with negative consequences to marine activities. For example, persistent organic pollutants like endocrine disruptors and pesticides, and toxins from harmful algal blooms can damage the aquatic environment with multiple effects such as acute and chronic toxicity to aquatic organisms, accumulation in the ecosystem and losses of habitats and biodiversity. Techniques combining ultrahigh-pressure liquid chromatography with triple-quadrupole linear ion-trap mass spectroscopy or based in thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GCMS) have promoted the determination of pollutants in seawater. However, such analytical techniques required sample preparation and sometimes pre-concentration steps in order to carry out the quantitative assessment of trace concentrations of marine contaminants which could involve long time of analysis, cost and resources, being increasingly higher in the in situ continuous monitoring. On the other hand, few works were developed for the detection of contaminants in marine water samples with biosensors. Thus, early warning systems are urgently required.
This project aims at developing a novel biosensing approach based on electrochemical principles for monitoring organic contaminants in marine waters. In a first step, the electrochemical biosensors will be assembled, tested and optimized. The microchip platform will be used to build the microelectrodes, and studies of adsorption and entrapment techniques will be developed to the immobilization of the antibodies. The biosensor will be tested for signal stability in order to perform an optimization for standard solutions of the organic contaminants. In a second step, the sensor will be validated under laboratory conditions, that is, the detection of organic contaminants will be made in coastal and aquaculture waters. The comparison of results will be made between the data of biosensor and analytical techniques such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and/or GC-MS. The biosensor will also be validated and compared to such analytical techniques in analytical recovery studies. Thirdly, the biosensor will be adjusted to a prototype and tested with actual samples being placed in buoys and then deployed in aquaculture facilities and coastal waters in order to demonstrate its functionality for in situ monitoring of organic contaminants. The biosensor could also be used on other situations when early warning systems are required for the assessment of water contamination.

CESAM members in the project

Armando da Costa Duarte

Professor Catedrático Aposentado