Increasing Shelf Life of Agricultural Commodities, ID Grant uri icon



  • The threat of food poisoning and other agricultural related contamination is a particular concern and the challenge of maintaining expected product quality and safety for humans and animals is great. Over 40 different food-borne microbial pathogens cause an estimated 30 million cases of human illness each year costing >$12 billion annually, and the potential for bioterrorism through the food supply is a clear and present threat. To sustain food safety and to assure the continued high quality of agricultural commodities, it is essential that we have methods to detect, predict and/or prevent contamination of foods and other agricultural commodities, which includes preservation and shelf-life strategies. Rapid detection of bacterial pathogens and toxins is critical for prevention. Current detection methods cannot meet the requirements for rapid, ultra-sensitive and accurate diagnostics. Electrical biosensors have a number of characteristics (low cost prodcution, robust function, improved performance, easy handling) that will contribute to point-of-care/field-based technologies for food quality analysis. We have previously developed electrical and optical biosensor systems for rapid and low-level detection of micro-organisms and toxins using low-cost materials and small equipment. The biosensors are based on the use of various nanomaterials (e.g., fluorescent and magnetic nanoparticles, modified nanowires and nanosprings) to isolate and concentrate targets from food products and to integrate these materials and detection schemes into sensor platforms. The future of electrical biodetection will be based on this successful integration strategy, resulting in rapid and sensitive bionanosensors as highly-compact devices unrivaled by standard materials and techniques. This project is designed to take our four prototypes into further development for improving consistency, performance, sample handling and expanding to other targets for proof of versatility in application. Four distinct aims will support our overarching project goal of producing sensor platforms that integrate efficient sample handling with rapid, low-cost, ultra-sensitive detection of microbial pathogens and toxins in agricultural, food and environmental sources and samples: Development of a real-time food sampling sensor utilizing silica nanosprings; biofunctionalization of nanomaterials for pathogen detection; nanomaterial-based methods development for gene regulation in preharvest meat muscle and fat; nanoelectronic sensor fabrication for Listeriolysin O detection. 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.

date/time interval

  • April 1, 2010 - September 30, 2012

sponsor award ID

  • IDA01001-SG