Real-Time Electrochemical Detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Phenazine Metabolites Using Transparent Carbon Ultramicroelectrode Arrays

Olja Simoska, Marta Sans, Mignon D. Fitzpatrick, Christopher M. Crittenden, Livia S. Eberlin, Jason B. Shear, Keith J. Stevenson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Here, we use a recently developed electrochemical sensing platform of transparent carbon ultramicroelectrode arrays (T-CUAs) for the in vitro detection of phenazine metabolites from the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Specifically, redox-active metabolites pyocyanin (PYO), 5-methylphenazine-1-carboxylic acid (5-MCA), and 1-hydroxyphenazine (OHPHZ) are produced by P. aeruginosa, which is commonly found in chronic wound infections and in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. As highly diffusible chemicals, PYO and other metabolites are extremely toxic to surrounding host cells and other competing microorganisms, thus their detection is of great importance as it could provide insights regarding P. aeruginosa virulence mechanisms. Phenazine metabolites are known to play important roles in cellular functions; however, very little is known about how their concentrations fluctuate and influence cellular behaviors over the course of infection and growth. Herein we report the use of easily assembled, low-cost electrochemical sensors that provide rapid response times, enhanced sensitivity, and high reproducibility. As such, these T-CUAs enable real-time electrochemical monitoring of PYO and another extremely reactive and distinct redox-active phenazine metabolite, 5-methylphenazine-1-carboxylic acid (5-MCA), from a highly virulent laboratory P. aeruginosa strain, PA14. In addition to quantifying phenazine metabolite concentrations, changes in phenazine dynamics are observed in the biosynthetic route for the production of PYO. Our quantitative results, over a 48-h period, show increasing PYO concentrations during the first 21 h of bacterial growth, after which PYO levels plateau and then slightly decrease. Additionally, we explore environmental effects on phenazine dynamics and PYO concentrations in two growth media, tryptic soy broth (TSB) and lysogeny broth (LB). The maximum concentrations of cellular PYO were determined to be 190 ± 5 μM and 150 ± 1 μM in TSB and LB, respectively. Finally, using desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) and nanoelectrospray ionization (nano-ESI) mass spectrometry we confirm the detection and identification of reactive phenazine metabolites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)170-179
    Number of pages10
    JournalACS Sensors
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2019


    • bacterial warfare toxin
    • phenazine metabolites
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    • pyocyanin
    • real-time bioelectroanalytical sensing
    • transparent carbon ultramicroelectrode arrays


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