Detection of Pathogens on Fresh Globe Fruit

The objective of this program is to develop, demonstrate and field test an inexpensive, accurate, easy-to-use biosensor for the detection of Salmonella contamination of fresh fruits, like tomatoes, cantaloupes and watermelons.

Globe fruits will be picked in the field using an appropriate sampling methodology and placed in sterilized, resealable plastic bags. The biosensors will be placed directly on the surface of the globe fruit, the bag sealed and the biosensors interrogated wirelessly to determine whether the surface of the fruit is contaminated with Salmonella. Data from these sensors will be used to spatially and temporally track Salmonella contaminations. Potential sources of contamination such as run-off from heavy rains, compost piles, contaminated pond water, or applications such as organic fertilizers can be identified and incorporated into an integrated growth, harvest and transportation management plan to ensure a safe food product.

Globe Fruit Example, Tomato

Benefits of Our Research

  • Identify critical hazard sources
  • Develop best practice for farming, harvest
  • Develop optimal transportation for food safety 

Key Players in Our Research

Our Stakeholders -- We have developed relationships with farmers and others in the growth, harvest and transportation process to understand their needs. They are providing the opportunity and resources to test our sensors in the field. 

Our Phage -- Highly robust and specific, genetically-engineered, phage will be immobilized onto the resonators as the bio-molecular recognition element. 

Our Sensors -- The biosensors will be smaller than a dust particle and cost less than 1/1000 of a cent per sensor. More than 50 individual ME biosensors may be placed on a single globe fruit and simultaneously interrogated to detect Salmonella contamination. 

Demonstration of Direct Detection on Tomato

This research is funded by the USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture

The device shown in this video was used on over 30 different fresh fruits and vegetables to successfully detect bacterial pathogens. Detection limit can vary with food surface roughness. Foods tested included: spinich, romaine, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. 

Last Updated: 4/7/20 3:17 PM