Electrochemical Microbial Sensor - Rapid, Precise and Portable Pathogenic Detection

G. Botte
Center for Electrochemical Engineering Research - Ohio University,
United States

Keywords: pathogen detection, microbial sensor, nanotechnology


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million people per year get sick from foodborne illnesses. Field deployable sensors that enable real-time detection of pathogens are needed to prevent this problem. Although many sensors have been used on an ad-hoc basis for specific issues, not many have the potential for commercialization or being used for on-field measurements, which is an area of concern. Ohio University has demonstrated a novel electrochemical method to detect Escherichia coli (E. coli) in water: the electrochemical microbial sensor (EMS). The method consists of applying an electrical field to a sample and measuring the current. E. coli interacts with a locally formed nano-electrocatalyst leading to a change in the current as a function of the E. coli concentration. A portable EMS has demonstrated short response time (less than 5 minutes) and promising experimental uncertainty (2-10%) when compare with the standard plate count for enumeration of microbes. In summary, an electrochemical biosensor that combines the advantages of the label-independent with the detection limit of the label-dependent, utilizing relatively cheap materials, and simplified electrode configuration, advances the practicality and feasibility of electrochemical biosensors for E. coli and other pathogens detection in food.