Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016CT297B

Microfluidic-based Biosensor Chip for Rapid and Calibration-free Detection of Viable E. coli and Total Coliforms for Water Quality Control

Institute: Connecticut
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $48,988 Total Non-Federal Funds: $118,991

Principal Investigators: Yu Lei, TaiHsi Fan

Abstract: Waterborne microbiological contaminations remain one of the major threats to public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that each year, 4 billion episodes of diarrhea result in an estimated 2 million deaths, mostly among children. Waterborne bacterial infections may account for as many as half of these episodes and deaths. In the past decades, a variety of technologies have been developed to detect the total coliforms and E. coli in drinking water. However, they usually take 18-24 h to complete. From a public health standpoint, it is too time-consuming to announce a boil water notification if the sample is positive for total coliforms or E. coli. Therefore, an innovative, calibration-free, easy-operation, robust, and ultrasensitive method for fast-screening skeptical drinking water samples is highly demanded. Preferably, it can also discriminate the viability of total coliforms and E. coli as conventional EPA-approved methods. This multidisciplinary proposal aims to develop a novel, cost-effective and user-friendly microfluidic-based digital biosensor chip (in conjunction with a commercial available large-volume water sample concentrator) for rapid, ultra-sensitive, and calibration-free detection of viable E. coli and total coliforms in drinking water, based on the activity of glucuronidase for E. coli and galactosidase for total coliforms, respectively. A number of novel features are introduced to the proposed system to make the MEMS biosensor faster and more sensitive toward the targets. This project will also positively impact education of graduate, undergraduate and high school students by integrating advanced water quality monitoring into their educational and laboratory training.