Microbioengineering: Microbe capture and detection

Linda Powers, C. Lloyd, H. Y. Mason, M. Dice, R. Tingy, C. Estes, A. Duncan, B. Wade, W. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Recent deaths from outbreaks of microbial contamination particularly in foods, but also in water and air, the recent threats of biological warfare/terrorism, and the re-emergence of such diseases as tuberculosis have emphasized the importance of quick and accurate assessments of microbial contamination. In addition, microbial contamination of sterile surfaces, such as those of medical and surgical instruments and devices, cause considerable danger. Using a unique combination of leading edge technologies, microbe capture chips and a hand-held prototype detector have been developed which are capable of statistically sampling the environment for pathogens [including spores] and exotoxins, identifying the specific pathogens/exotoxins, and determining cell viability. This system is sensitive enough to detect very low levels [∼20 cells/sq cm] of infectious bacteria in minutes. The microbe capture technology is based on molecular recognition and pathogenesis using iron acquisition and eukaryotic receptor adhesion strategies. These non-antibody-based ligands are tethered to the sensor chip in a patterned array. In addition to statistically sampling the environmental, pathogen identification can be made based on which ligands are bound by microbes. Capture events are detected using intrinsic fluorescence of the cells and spores such as that from metabolites, amino acids, and other specific cell components. The multi-wavelength fluorescence detection device incorporates integrated parallel 'readout' of the sensor chip and employs a pattern recognition algorithm for pathogen identification. This system is both several orders of magnitude more sensitive and several orders of magnitude faster than current field sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4058
Number of pages1
JournalAnnual Reports of the Research Reactor Institute, Kyoto University
StatePublished - 2001
Event23rd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: Oct 25 2001Oct 28 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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