Engineered microbes are exciting alternatives to current diagnostics and therapeutics. Researchers have developed a wide range of genetic tools and parts to engineer probiotic and commensal microbes. Among these tools and parts, biosensors allow the microbes to sense and record or to sense and respond to chemical and environmental signals in the body, enabling them to report on health conditions of the animal host and/or deliver therapeutics in a controlled manner. This review focuses on how biosensing is applied to engineer “smart” microbes for in vivo diagnostic, therapeutic, and biocontainment goals. Hurdles that need to be overcome when transitioning from high-throughput in vitro systems to low-throughput in vivo animal models, new technologies that can be implemented to alleviate this experimental gap, and areas where future advancements can be made to maximize the utility of biosensing for medical applications are also discussed. As technologies for engineering microbes continue to be developed, these engineered organisms will be used to address many medical challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1900319
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • biocontainment
  • biosensing
  • diagnostic
  • probiotic
  • therapeutic


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