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Erel Lior, Tim Axelrod, Evgeni Eltzov, Ariel Kushmaro and Robert S. Marks

Abstract

The Lachish River has suffered from recurring pollution incidents for the past decade. On October 11th, 2017, another contamination in the river was sighted, as thousands of dead fish were found floating. Samples from the river were retrieved and tested through a whole cell bioluminescent bacterial bioreporter system as well as conventional analytical methods, and the results from both methods were analyzed and compared, even though initially these two collecting events were not coordinated. The information acquired from the whole cell reporter was consistent with that obtained from conventional methods. Both approaches indicated a large concentration of microorganisms as deduced from K802NR E. coli strain reaction and coliforms count. The high water conductivity measured in collected samples were closer downstream, and attributed to the diffusion of salts from the Mediterranean Sea which affected bacterial viability as seen from the decreased reaction of E. coli strains TV1061 and DPD2794. In addition, the bacterial indicators’ kinetic patterns have shown indication for the presence of a genotoxic substance from only one of the collection sites, which was tested positive for the herbicide Metazachlor, itself known to have genotoxic effects. The correlation between both approaches, along with the biosensor’s ability to assess biological influences, suggests that the whole cell bioluminescent bacterial bioreporter bioassay as an easy, simple and efficient approach for water toxicity monitoring.