In situ sensing system for the selective and sensitive detection of biological toxins in HABs
NIEHS Grant: R01ES021951
Researchers at the University of Texas, Arlington are developing a real-time sensor to monitor microcystins, a powerful biological toxin produced from cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (HABs). Exposure to microcystins can affect the number and diversity of wild animal populations, cause bioaccumulation of toxins in the tissues of fish and shellfish, and indirectly affect other organisms through the food chain and eventually humans. The investigators are pioneering an optical sensor to detect multiple microcystins at trace levels, exploring an integrated chip-scale sensing node to automatically execute the sensing protocol, and developing a wireless sensor network to communicate data. The research team will deploy the sensor in a potential HAB site in the Great Lakes. Their work will generate an in situ wireless sensing network that can monitor microcystins in water resources sustainably and responsively while also communicating critical information to remote environmental and health authorities in real time.