Home Page Researchers Shimshon Belkin

Shimshon Belkin

Institute of Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
Tel: +972-2-6584192; Fax: +972-2-6585559
E-mail: shimshon@vms.huji.ac.il
Website: http://www.bio.huji.ac.il/staff_in.asp?staff_id=62

Microbial-based Biosensors

Work in this direction in our lab focuses on whole cell biosensors: natural or genetically engineered live cells that sensitively report on the presence of either pre-determined classes of chemicals, or on the general toxicity of the sample. By using live cells we are able to detect the very complex series of reactions that can exist only in an intact, functioning cell. Only a sensor of this type can report on the "wellbeing" of a system, on the toxicity of a sample, the genotoxicity of a chemical or the bioavailability of a pollutant. No molecular recognition or chemical analysis can provide this type of information.

To turn such cells into usable biosensors, they need to be incorporated onto a solid platform and coupled into a signal transduction apparatus. We have taken several paths towards the integration of the genetically engineered reporter cells into various hardware configurations, including disposable whole-cell biochips.

Current directions undertaken in this research include the development of bacterial sensor panels for the detection of trace amount of pharmaceuticals (with a focus on antibiotics) and specific biosensors for the remote detection of buried landmines (with A. Agranat, Applied Physics).

Over the last year significant progress has been made in the molecular engineering of bacterial sensors for the detection of trace vapors of dinitrotoluene (DNT) emanating from buried landlimes. In Figure 1 we show, for example, the luminescent response of such reporter cells on DNT-containing soil.


Fig. 1: Luminescent response of DNT-Sensor strains exposed to DNT vapors in soil. Top: signal quantification; Bottom: images of the exposed bacterial clusters

Specific research topics related to Nanoscience and Nanotechnology:

  • Remote sensing of buried landmines by microbial sensors (With A. Agranat, Applied Physics) (Mafaat
  • Biomonar: Biosensor nanoarrays for environmental monitoring (EU)

List of publications in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (2011-2012)

Peer-reviewed articles:

  • Yagur-Kroll, S. and S. Belkin. 2011. Upgrading bioluminescent bacterial bioreporter performance by splitting the lux operon. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 400: 1071?1082.
  • Melamed, S, L. Ceriotti, W. Weigel, F. Rossi, P. Colpo and S. Belkin, 2011. A printed nanoliter-scale bacterial sensor array. Lab on Chip 11: 139-146.
  • Woutersen, M., S. Belkin, B. Brouwer, A. P. van Wezel and M. B. Heringa, 2011. Are luminescent bacteria suitable for online detection and monitoring of toxic compounds in drinking water and its sources? Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 400: 915?929
  • Ben-Yoav, H. S., T. Amzel, M. Sternheim, S. Belkin, A. Rubin, Y. Shacham-Diamand and A. Freeman, 2011. Signal amelioration of electrophoretically deposited whole-cell biosensors using external electric fields. Electrochimica Acta 56: 9666? 9672. doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2011.04.017
  • Biran A., H. Ben Yoav, S. Yagur-Kroll, R. Pedahzur, S. Buchinger, Y. Shacham-Diamand, G. Reifferscheid and S. Belkin, 2011. Microbial genotoxicity bioreporters based on sulA activation. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 400: 3013?3024. DOI: 10.1007/s00216-011-5007-2.
  • Ben-Yoav, H., T. Amzel, A. Biran, M. Sternheim, S. Belkin, A. Freeman and Y. Shacham-Diamand, 2011. Bacterial biofilm-based water toxicity sensor. Sensors & Actuators: B. Chemical. 158: 366-371. doi:10.1016/j.snb.2011.06.037.
  • Elad, T., R. Almog, S. Yagur-Kroll, K. Levkov, S. Melamed, Y. Shacham-Diamand and S. Belkin, 2011. On-line monitoring of water toxicity using bioluminescent reporter bacterial biochips. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45: 8536-8544. DOI: 10.1021/es202465c
  • Melamed, S., T. Elad and S. Belkin, 2011. Microbial sensor cell arrays. Curr. Opin. Biotech., doi:10.1016/j.copbio.2011.11.024
  • Elad, T. and S. Belkin, 2012. Whole-cell biochips for on-line water monitoring. Bioengineered Bugs 3.
  • Melamed, S. C. Lalush, T. Elad, S. Yagur-Kroll, S. Belkin and R. Pedahzur, 2012. A bacterial reporter panel for the detection and classification of antibiotic substances. Microbial Biotechnol., http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00888-1210.1111/j.1751-7915.2012.00333.x
  • Ben Yoav, H., R. Ofek-Almog, Y. Sverdlov, M. Sternheim, S. Belkin, A. Freeman and Y. Shacham-Diamand, 2012. Modified working electrodes for electrochemical whole-cell microchips. Electrochimica Acta, in press. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.electacta.2012.03.042
  • Kessler, N., J. Schauer, S. Yagur-Kroll, S. Melamed, O. Tirosh, S. Belkin and Y. Erel, 2012. A bacterial bioreporter panel to assay the cytotoxicity of atmospheric particulate matter. Atm. Env. 63: 94-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.09.048

Significant publications in the last five years:

  • Belkin, S., 2003. Whole-cell environmental sensing of pollutants. Current Opinion Microbiol., 6: 206-212 (241 citations)
  • Bjerketorp, J., S. H?kansson, S. Belkin and J. K. Jansson, 2006. Advances in preservation methods: keeping biosensor microorganisms alive and active. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 17: 1-7 (69)
  • van der Meer, J. R. and S. Belkin, 2010. Where microbiology meets microengineering: design and applications of reporter bacteria. Nat. Rev. Microbiol., doi:10.1038/nrmicro2392 (52)
  • Elad, T., R. Almog, S. Yagur-Kroll, K. Levkov, S. Melamed, Y. Shacham-Diamand and S. Belkin, 2011. On-line monitoring of water toxicity using bioluminescent reporter bacterial biochips. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45: 8536-8544. DOI: 10.1021/es202465c (4)
  • Melamed, S, L. Ceriotti, W. Weigel, F. Rossi, P. Colpo and S. Belkin, 2011. A printed nanoliter-scale bacterial sensor array. Lab on Chip. 11: 139-146 (8)

Cooperation with industries and defense projects (2011-2012):

2010-2011: Israeli Ministry of defense: "Remote sensing of buried landmines" (with A. Agranat, Applied Physics)

Cooperation with other universities in Israel:

Within Hebrew University:
Prof. Aharon Agranat, Applied Physics; microbial whole-cell arrays

With other universities:
Professor Yosi Shacham-Diamand; Microbial based biosensors

Research grants:

  • Mafat (2009- ): Remote sensing of buried landmines
  • BSF (2011-2015): Spatial biodiversity of phyllosphere communities
  • EU (2010-2014): Biosensor nanoarrays for environmental monitoring
  • KNRF (Korea) (2010-2012) Innovative microbead-based smart cell chips
  • Academia Sinica/HUJI (2012-2015) Microbial whole-cell sensor arrays

Students, postdocs and researchers:

Technician/Researcher: Dr. Rachel Rosen
Postdocs:  Dr. Sharon Yagur-Kroll (2006- ), Dr. Keren Harel-Dasa (2011-)
Ph.D. students:  Tal Elad, Sahar Melamed, Omri Finkel.
M.Sc students:  Shani Gefen, Haim Lalush, Adi Feinshtein, Neta Bachar

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