Effect of groundwater composition on arsenic detection by bacterial biosensors
A luminescent bacterial biosensor was used to quantify bioavailable arsenic in artificial groundwater. Its light production above the background emission was proportional to the arsenite concentration in the toxicologically relevant range of 0 to 0.5 mu M. Effects of the inorganic solutes phosphate, Fe(II) and silicate on the biosensor signal were studied. Phosphate at a concentration of 0.25 g L-1 phosphate slightly stimulated the light emission, but much less than toxicologically relevant concentrations of the much stronger inducer arsenite. No effect of phosphate was oberved in the presence of arsenite. Freshly prepared sodium silicate solution at a concentration of 10 g L-1 Si reduced the arsenite-induced light production by roughly 37%, which can be explained by transient polymerization leading to sequestration of some arsenic. After three days of incubation, silicate did not have this effect anymore, probably because depolymerization occurred. In the presence of 0.4 g L-1 Fe(II), the arsenite-induced light emission was reduced by up to 90%, probably due to iron oxidation followed by arsenite adsorption on the less soluble Fe(III) possibly along with some oxidation to the stronger adsorbing As(V). Addition of 100 mu M EDTA was capable of releasing all arsenic from the precipitate and to transform it into the biologically measurable, dissolved state. The biosensor also proved valuable for monitoring the effectiveness of an arsenic removal procedure based on water filtration through a mixture of sand and iron granules.