Development of a virus sensor

Since the greenhouse horticultural sector aims to be practically emission-free by 2027, it is focusing great attention on water reuse. But a water discharge is sometimes necessary if companies cannot exclude the possibility that the water contains pathogenic viruses. Whenever there is any doubt, no risks are taken and a precautionary discharge is made. In order to reduce these discharges to a minimum, cultivators require real-time monitoring to be able to see whether the water is contaminated by viruses.


This project aims to develop a prototype of an optical biosensor for the detection of viruses in water streams at greenhouse horticultural companies.


The virus detection is studied on a lab scale using a couple of plant pathogenic viruses. Based on criteria such as sensitivity, purchase price and (expected) path to market uptake, the most promising applications will be further developed and, during the final project phase, tested in practice. Six months after the beginning of the project it should be clear whether the sensor to be developed can distinguish between infectious and non-infectious viral material. We have built in a go/no-go moment at this point.

Anticipated solutions

The project will provide new knowledge and tools related to the deployability of biosensors for the real-time detection of viruses in water. The risk of pathogenic viruses in the greenhouses is an impediment to achieving an optimal reuse of water. A biosensor would allow for a better management of risks related to the presence of viruses in water. The cultivators would thus have access to a reliable means for the (semi) continuous monitoring of the presence of viruses.

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