Improving the Safety and Shelf Life of Agricultural Commodities (FY2009)
The primary goal of this project is to develop electronic biosensors that can quickly detect the presence of microbial pathogens and toxins in agricultural, food and environmental systems. The early, fast and accurate detection of biological pathogens is an important element for ensuring the safety and shelf life of agricultural commodities resulting from both accidental and intentional food poisoning. The work will play a major role in preventing bioterrorism in our food supply. In two earlier USDA projects, we have developed a biosensor system that can detect multiple organisms in a multiplex system allowing simultaneous screening for several organisms and toxins at one time. We propose to further the development of these electronic biosensor systems through the development and application of new nanotechnology and microelectronics toward
several agricultural, food, environmental and health systems. The proposed project will support our goal through the completion of four objectives: development of a real-time food-sampling sensor characterization of pathogen detection assays utilizing silica nanosprings and locked nucleic acids (LNAs); biofunctionalization of nanomaterials for pathogen detection in food products; integrated nanosensors for ultra-sensitive, multiplex detection of bacterial toxins (shiga-toxin) in meat products; and improving shelf-life of meat through pre-harvest regulation of post-harvest fatty acid oxidation. The four projects are unique, yet complementary, and cover a broad range of food pathogen detection methodologies. The research teams bring a breath of experience in electronic detection, nanomaterials development and characterization, and biological sciences. The integrated teams will establish
new protocols for pathogen detection that dovetail with advanced food safety nanotechnology in sensing.