Development of a virus sensor

The greenhouse horticulture sector aims to be practically emission-free by 2027. Water discharges may sometimes be necessary when companies cannot exclude the possibility that the water contains pathogenic viruses. In case of doubt, no risks are taken and water will be discharged to be on the safe side. In order to reduce these discharges to a minimum, growers require real-time monitoring to see whether the water is contaminated by viruses.


This project developed a prototype of an optical biosensor for to detect Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) and a lily virus (PlAMV) in water streams at greenhouse horticulture companies.


Virus detection was studied at a lab scale on the basis of these viruses. Criteria such as sensitivity, purchase price and the path to market uptake were used to identify the most promising application and develop it further into a prototype.

Laboratory tests demonstrated that this technique can distinguish between infectious (living) and non-infectious (dead) viral material. In addition, series dilution with CGMMV and PlAMV in drain water show that the sensor can detect the different virus concentrations.


The project developed a prototype biosensor for the real-time detection of viruses in water. The risk of pathogenic viruses in greenhouses prevents the optimal reuse of water. A biosensor allows for the better management of risks associated with viruses in water. This project gives growers a reliable method for the semi-continuous monitoring of the presence of viruses. A follow-up project will develop and test the biosensor further.

This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Horticulture Top Sector, Horticulture & Propagation Materials TKI.