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Regina Bailey

Gold Particles Help Identify Salmonella

By March 29, 2012

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Salmonella typhimurium (red)
Image Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

Scientists have developed a novel method for detecting Salmonella bacteria in food products. The testing method can identify the presence of Salmonella in only five minutes. In the study, the researchers used gold nanoparticles with antibodies attached to them to identify Salmonella. Several nanoparticle-antibody structures attached themselves to Salmonella causing a color change to occur in the testing process. The experimental procedures were tested on a small sample of lettuce.

According to head researcher Paresh C. Ray, "It doesn't take a trained laboratory technician to perform the test or read the results. If the color changes from pink to bluish, that signals the presence of Salmonella. The test is suitable for use in farm fields and in remote areas of the developing world. We believe it may have enormous potential for rapid, on-site pathogen detection to avoid the distribution of contaminated foods." The researchers also state that the process can potentially be used to destroy bacteria as well. When Salmonella contaminated water was exposed to the appropriate wavelength of light, the gold nanoparticles heated up causing damage to the cell membrane of the bacteria.

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