The photoreaction center of Rhodobacter sphaeroides: A 'biosensor protein' for the determination of photosystem-II herbicides?

Heinz Peters, Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, Rolf D. Schmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


According to a European directive for drinking water (1980), pesticides are tolerable only in extremely low concentration of 0.1 μg 1-1. Hence, there is a demand for the sensitive control of pesticides in drinking water. Currently used detection methods (LC and GC-MS) are not suitable for rapid screening, but progress has been made recently to apply immunoassays based on pesticide-specific antibodies. Here, we present an alternative receptor, photosystem-II (PSII), which interacts with photosystem-II herbicides. In particular, we review the structure and function of the photosynthetic reaction center (RC) from Rhodobacter sphaeroides and its application for the detection of PSII herbicides using different biosensor formats. An assay based on photobleaching of RC, a displacement assay based on bacterial luciferase as detection system and a grating coupler device for measuring the amount of PSII herbicides is discussed. While these assays work in principle, they are not sensitive enough to comply to the detection limits set by EU regulation. However, both the sensitivity and selectivity of RC might be increased by modification of the RC using genetic engineering techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a grant from NEDO/ RAB on the development of functional protein complexes. The supply of the genesc oding for RC from R. sphaeroides by D. Oesterhelt, Max-Planck-Institut fir Biochemie, Miin-then-Martinsried, is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Biosensors
  • Genetic engineering
  • Grating coupler
  • Herbicides
  • Luciferase
  • Photobleaching
  • Photosynthetic reaction centre
  • Rhodobacter sphaeroides


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