Ecotoxicological assessment relies to a large extent on the information gathered with surrogate species and the extrapolation of test results across species and different levels of biological organisation. Bacteria have long been used as a bioreporter for genotoxic testing and general toxicity. Today, it is clear that bacteria have the potential for screening of other toxicological endpoints. Escherichia coli has been studied for years; in-depth knowledge of its biochemistry and genetics makes it the most proficient prokaryote for the development of new toxicological assays. Several assays have been designed with E. coli as a bioreporter, and the recent trend to develop novel, better advanced reporters makes bioreporter development one of the most dynamic in ecotoxicology. Based on in-depth knowledge of E. coli, new assays are being developed or existing ones redesigned, thanks to the availability of new reporter genes and new or improved substrates. The technological evolution towards easier and more sensitive detection of different gene products is another important aspect. Often, this requires the redesign of the bacterium to make it compatible with the novel measuring tests. Recent advances in surface chemistry and nanoelectronics open the perspective for advanced reporter based on novel measuring platforms and with an online potential. In this article, we will discuss the use of E. coli-based bioreporters in ecotoxicological applications as well as some innovative sensors awaited for the future.