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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2016, Article ID 1630695, 12 pages
Review Article

Biosensors Used for Quantification of Nitrates in Plants

CA Ingeniería de Biosistemas (Biosystems Engineering Group), División de Estudios de Posgrado, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, Cerro de las Campanas, S/N, 76010 Santiago de Queretaro, QRO, Mexico

Received 8 October 2015; Revised 21 December 2015; Accepted 22 December 2015

Academic Editor: Chenzhong Li

Copyright © 2016 Romero-Galindo Raul et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nitrogen is essential for the plant because it is used for the production of chlorophyll, proteins, nucleic acids, amino acids, and other cellular compounds; nitrogen is available in two forms: ammonium and nitrate. Several tools have been used to quantify nitrates in plants such as the Kjeldahl method and Dumas combustion digestion; however, they are destructive and long time-consuming methods. To solve these disadvantages, methods such as selective electrodes, optical sensors, reflectometers, and images based sensors have been developed; nonetheless, all these techniques show interference when carrying out measurements. Currently, biosensors based on genetic constructions, based on the response of promoter gene fused to Gene Fluorescent Protein (GFP), are gaining popularity, because they improve the accuracy of measurements of nitrate by avoiding the interference of carriers ion, high salt conditions, and other factors. The present review shows the different methods to quantify the nitrogen in plants; later, a biosensors perspective is presented, mainly focused on biosensors based on organism genetically modified. The review presents a list of promoter and reporter genes that could be used to develop different kind of sensors, and a perspective of sensors to measure quantitatively the nitrogen is presented.