Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement (Jan 2011)

Biosensors in forensic sciences

  • Frederickx, C.,
  • Verheggen, FJ.,
  • Haubruge, E.

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 15, no. 3
pp. 449 – 458


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A biosensor is a device that uses biological materials to detect and monitor the presence of specific chemicals in an area. Traditional methods of volatile detection used by law enforcement agencies and rescue teams typically consist of reliance on canine olfaction. This concept of using dogs to detect specific substances is quite old. However, dogs have some limitations such as cost of training and time of conditioning. Thus, the possibility of using other organisms as biosensors including rats, dolphins, honeybees, and parasitic wasps for detecting explosives, narcotics and cadavers has been developed. Insects have several advantages unshared by mammals. Insects are sensitive, cheap to produce and can be conditioned with impressive speed for a specific chemical-detection task. Moreover, insects might be a preferred sensing method in scenarios that are deemed too dangerous to use mammals. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the biosensors used in forensic sciences.