Thursday, 15 March 2018

Low-cost tool for detecting bacteria in water

Food scientists have developed a new, rapid and low-cost method for detecting bacteria in water or a food sample. Once commercially available, it should be useful to cooks using fresh fruits and vegetables, for example, and aid workers in the field responding to natural disasters.

The method is a sensitive and reliable bacteria-detecting chip that can test whether fresh spinach or apple juice, for example, carry a bacterial load. The chip, used with a light microscope for optical detection, relies on a "capture molecule," 3-mercaptophenylboronic acid (3-MBPA) that attracts and binds to any bacteria. The chemical detection method, "surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy" (SERS), relies on silver nanoparticles. The techniques are now in the patenting process.


Brooke Pearson, Alexander Mills, Madeline Tucker, Siyue Gao, Lynne McLandsborough, Lili He. Rationalizing and advancing the 3-MPBA SERS sandwich assay for rapid detection of bacteria in environmental and food matricesFood Microbiology, 2018; 72: 89 DOI: 10.1016/

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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