Portable biosensor coupled with a sampling drone for the in situ assessment of seawater toxicity


Dr Sulivan Jouanneau, GEPEA (UMR CNRS 6144), Université de Nantes, France



Research institute

Research institute


Project Abstract

The preservation of the oceans is a major issue of the 21st century. In this context, the European Union is committed to protecting our seas and oceans, as indicated in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Despite this, there is today a significant lack of methods aimed at qualifying its environments, and in particular with regard to the impact of pollutants on marine ecosystems. The aim of the MOBILTOX project is to contribute to this effort by providing a mobile platform for the in situ assessment of water toxicity as an early warning system. The platform will combine two analysis complementary modules (biosensors) relying on biological indicators and a sampling drone.

The first sensing module is based on whole microbial cells as indicator of overall toxicity (approach based on inhibition of respiratory activity - fluorescent sensors). It will be used to determine the toxicity level caused by the pollutants mixtures in the studied environments (harbours, coastal areas, etc.). This first analysis level will provide information about the overall quality of the environment (the aim is not to detect specific toxic compounds). The choice of the biological indicator is crucial, therefore the cells will be isolated from the targeted environments (coastal area, harbors, mouth of rivers such as the Danube in Romania or the Loire in France) in order to ensure a good representativeness of the information collected by this first approach.

The second module aims to detect specific groups of contaminants (inhibitors of photosynthesis such as herbicides and metals - main marine pollutants from run-off from agricultural and industrial activities) via inhibition of photosystem II (PSII) complexes immobilized on electrodes (PSII-inhibition sensor). A preliminary step will be dedicated to identifying the best suitable phototrophic microorganisms with an enzymatic complex which is useful in this context.

Project Start

March 2021
Project Duration

36 Months
Project Budget

Total Cost  0.6 M€
Funding     0.5 M€
Project Website