Development of a biosensor technology for environmental monitoring and disease prevention in aquaculture ensuring food safety
EnviGuard is a response to the growing need for accurate real time monitoring of the seas/ocean and the aquaculture industries need for a reliable and cost-effective risk management tool. The implementation of the EnviGuard system will allow for early detection of harmful algae blooms (HAB), chemical contaminants, viruses and toxins thus preventing economic losses.
The objective of EnviGuard is to develop a highly specific and precise in-situ measurement device for man-made chemical contaminants and biohazards (i.e. microorganisms and toxins from biological sources) which are currently hard to measure. The device to be developed under the project would be used as an early warning system for the European aquaculture sector and as an environmental monitoring tool to assess the Good Environmental Status (GES) of the sea. The modular EnviGuard system will be made up of three different sensor modules (microalgae / pathogens, i.e. viruses & bacteria / toxins & chemicals), that are connected to the common interface 'EnviGuard Port' which
collects and sends the information to a server. The data will be accessible through a website in real-time. The modularity of the system enables an individual setup for each purpose thus offering a tailor-made solution for each future client. In summary the objectives of the project are:
i) highly specific, precise and reliable in-situ measurements of biohazards and chemical contaminants in seawater with real-time results
ii) multi-class, multi-analytic method for the simultaneous determination of harmful microalgae species, Betanodavirus, E. coli, okadaic acid, and saxitoxin, PCB 128 and PCB 118
iii) automatic sampling in the marine environment
iv) easy access to data from everywhere through internet database
v) a modular system (of up to three sensors) integrated in a single, portable, durable device
EnviGuard will allow an easier, faster and cheaper way to measure harmful substances in-situ. Thus, it will provide a unique, competitive advantage and leadership to the European aquaculture industry. In order to achieve EnviGuard's goals, the latest findings of nanotechnologies, genomics, molecular science, bio-receptors as well as material science and information technology are combined in the three biosensor modules and a common interface. For that reason it is necessary to have access to international expertise as there are no actors dealing with all these fields in one single country. Molecular probes, aptamers and antibodies are being used to detect the desired targets. The signalling works electrochemically and through optical label-free responses based on changes in reflectivity of nanostructured surfaces.