A new bacterial biosensor for styrene has been developed and characterized. A translational fusion of the lacZ gene to the sty promoter of Pseudomonas sp. strain Y2 has been inserted into miniTn5. Transposition of the recombinant transposon to the chromosome of Pseudomonas sp. strain Y2 resulted in a whole-cell biosensor able to detect and degrade styrene. In this biosensor, the endogenous StyS/StyR system detects the presence of styrene and turns on the expression of the exogenous reporter gene from the transferred construction. Other compounds such as toluene, epoxystyrene, phenylacetaldehyde and 2-phenylethanol also induced expression of β-galactosidase although quantitative differences in their effect are clearly detected. Non-inducing compounds affect differently the sensitivity to inducing compounds when present in a mixture. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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