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Salmonella sensing system

Date:
October 18, 2013
Source:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Summary:
Foodborne illnesses spread easily and, as such, are a difficult-to-control problem -- even more so in developing nations. Quick detection can play a critical role in halting the spread of contamination. Traditional detection methods, however, tend to be haltingly slow. Recognizing the need for a real-time biosensing system to detect pathogenic bacteria, a team of researchers came up with a novel design to do so.

As anyone who has ever consumed bacteria-contaminated food and experienced "food poisoning" can tell you, it's a miserable experience. Yet it's an all-too-common one, with foodborne illnesses making 1 in 6 Americans -- or 48 million people -- sick each year. Of these people sickened, 128,000 end up in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 3,000 die.

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Foodborne illnesses spread easily and, as such, are a difficult-to-control problem -- even more so in developing nations. This means that quick detection can play a critical role in halting the spread of contamination. Traditional detection methods, however, tend to be haltingly slow.

Recognizing the need for a real-time biosensing system to detect pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella, a team of Auburn University researchers came up with a novel design, which they describe in the American Institute of Physics' Journal of Applied Physics.

What sets this biosensing system apart from traditional detection methods is a design that involves using a magnetoelastic biosensor -- a low-cost, wireless acoustic wave sensor platform -- combined with a surface-scanning coil detector. The biosensors are coated with a bacteria-specific recognition layer containing particles of "phage," a virus that naturally recognizes bacteria, so that it's capable of detecting specific types of pathogenic bacteria.

Traditional technologies required the sensor to be inside a coil to measure the sensor's signals, said Yating Chai, a doctoral student in Auburn University's materials engineering program.

"The key to our discovery is that measurement of biosensors can now be made 'outside the coil' by using a specially designed microfabricated reading device," he explained.

"In the past, if we were trying to detect whether or not a watermelon was contaminated with Salmonella on the outside of its surface, the sensors would be placed on the watermelon, and then passed through a large coil surrounding it to read the sensors," Chai says.

By stark contrast, the new biosensing system is a handheld device that can be passed over food to determine if its surface is contaminated.

"Now, tests can be carried out in agricultural fields or processing plants in real time -- enabling both the food and processing plant equipment and all surfaces to be tested for contamination," notes Chai.

The researchers have filed a patent for their magnetoelastic biosensing system.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics (AIP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yating Chai, Howard C. Wikle, Zhenyu Wang, Shin Horikawa, Steve Best, Zhongyang Cheng, Dave F. Dyer, Bryan A. Chin. Design of a surface-scanning coil detector for direct bacteria detection on food surfaces using a magnetoelastic biosensor. Journal of Applied Physics, 2013; 114 (10): 104504 DOI: 10.1063/1.4821025

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics (AIP). "Salmonella sensing system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131018132004.htm>.
American Institute of Physics (AIP). (2013, October 18). Salmonella sensing system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131018132004.htm
American Institute of Physics (AIP). "Salmonella sensing system." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131018132004.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

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