A strategy for the rapid, inexpensive, and simple detection of a variety of bacterial species.
The detection of bacteria has many applications such as medicine and food safety, to name a few. Current detection methods are limited due to extensive time and equipment requirements making them less than ideal in a number of settings. The ability to accurately and successfully target a species of interest is an especially limiting disadvantage.
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have created a strategy for the rapid, inexpensive, and simple detection of a variety of bacterial species. This strategy is based on the interaction between bacterial cells and the viruses that infect them, phages. Colorimetric sensing allows for clear detection using a visible spectral shift that is produced around aggregation around cell phage complexes. Thiolation of engineered phages allows binding of gold nanoparticles, which aggregate on the phages, amplifying the interaction and resulting in a visible color change. It can be applied to any bacteria that are targeted from a metagenomic sample. While the standard detection time is four hours, this technology can detect bacteria in a mere twenty minutes, or less. This detection strategy requires minimal lab equipment and minimal training.