Rotting foods are a serious risk to our health. The food industry is therefore correspondingly strict in its vigilance toward bacteria in products. The influence of production and storage conditions on the growth of pathogens must constantly be evaluated.
In the journal Angewandte Chemie, researchers from Regensburg, Germany have now introduced a new method for monitoring the growth of bacteria: The fluorescence of nanoparticles embedded in an agarose growth medium changes significantly when the pH value changes because of bacterial metabolism. This can be monitored in real time with a simple digital camera.
Xu-dong Wang, Robert J. Meier, and Otto S. Wolfbeis from the University of Regensburg have developed a truly simple, broadly applicable process for the production of nanosensors for this purpose. A biocompatible polymer with water-friendly (hydrophilic) and water-repellent (hydrophobic) domains is added to water. If the concentration is right, the polymer forms stable micelles with relatively hydrophobic cores and a more hydrophilic outer layer.
The researchers embedded two different fluorescent dyes in these micelles. The first is a hydrophobic fluorescein dye that gives of green light when excited by an LED, and is sensitive to changes in the pH value. The second dye exhibits red fluorescence that is independent of the pH value and thus acts as an internal reference. These nanosensors are mixed into a combination of agarose and nutrients commonly used for bacterial cultures. This mixture is poured into Petri dishes, where it forms a gel.
In the initial state, the pH is set so that the green dye does not fluoresce; only the red fluorescence of the reference can be seen. When a sample containing bacteria is added, they begin to multiply. Their metabolism causes the pH value of the medium to rise. As the pH value increases, the nanoparticles give off more green light, while the red fluorescence remains unchanged. The radiation can easily be detected with the red and green channels of modern digital cameras.
The changes in the ratio of green to red fluorescence over time is recorded. This reflects the growth of the bacteria.
The nanoparticles are nontoxic and do not leave the agarose gel, so they are not taken up by the bacteria. They thus do not disrupt the growth of the bacteria, unlike some other sensors. The measurements are straightforward: Because it is only necessary to evaluate the ratio of the green fluorescence to the red reference, fluctuations in detection have no effect. By using conventional Petri dishes instead of small-format microtiter plates and imaging procedures instead of pH electrodes, it is also possible to resolve the spatial distribution of bacterial growth.
In the future, these new sensors could be integrated into food packaging along with a barcode to indicate the freshness of the food.About the Author
Author: Otto S. Wolfbeis, University of Regensburg (Germany), http://www.wolfbeis.deTitle: Fluorescent pH-Sensitive Nanoparticles in an Agarose Matrix for Imaging of Bacterial Growth and Metabolism
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201205715
Otto S. Wolfbeis | Angewandte Chemie
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy