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Gene-sensing Found to Aid Pathogen Detection

25 June 2013

CHINA - Researchers have reported making progress in gene-sensing strategies for rapid detection of foodborne pathogens, including Listeria.

Food is the basis of human survival and development, and its safety is an important issue for people's livelihood, and also an important indicator to measure the quality of people's lives in a country.

The statistics showed that the main factor of Chinese food poisoning remained to be microbial pathogens, ranking before the chemical toxin. In food contamination, some common and highly pathogenic pathogens include Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Norwalk and Rotavirus, which are the culprit cause of food poisoning. In the hot and humid southern China, the problems caused by these foodborne pathogenic microorganism epidemics are particularly prominent. Therefore, rapid and accurate detection of food pathogenic microorganisms are key technologies to timely control and prevent pathogenic food poisoning.

"Recent progress in gene-sensing techniques for rapid detection of foodborne pathogens", written by Dr Xiao Zhu, and with professor Da Xing form Institute of Laser Life Science, South China Normal University as the corresponding author around the characteristics of their research, briefly summarised the latest progresses of rapidly detecting foodborne pathogenic microorganisms based on the recognition of characteristic genes. This paper has been published in Chinese Science Bulletin (Chinese version) in issue 11 of 2013.

Nowadays, due to the rapid development of molecular biology techniques, especially the emerging new biological detection method based on the recognition of characteristic genes, vitality has been injected in the development of high sensitive and specific detection methods of foodborne pathogenic microorganisms. Compared with the antigen-antibody based detection method, these methods have the advantages of specificity, high sensitivity and wide range of application.

Motivated by these theories, Xing's group has successfully developed some foodborne pathogenic microorganisms detection methods with prominent features based on the platforms of electrochemiluminescence (ECL) and microfluidic. Among these researches, the in situ ECL detection system is a representative work, to realise rapid, specific, yet highly sensitive foodborne pathogenic microorganisms genome test.

The key idea of the novel system is integrating the in situ nucleic acids amplification using nano-magnetic primers and in situ ECL read-out on magnetic beads based detection platform.

They used Listeria monocytogenes as the target to examine the proposed technology, reaching a detection limit of fg/μL genome in one hour. The novel method has provided the evidence as a proof-of-concept, thus having potential for development of automatic mode for detection of the real samples.

The research was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2010CB732602), the Key Program of NSFC Guangdong Joint Funds of China (U0931005), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (IRT0829), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81101121).

See the article: Zhu X., Huang R. and Xing D. Recent progress in gene-sensing techniques for rapid detection of foodborne pathogens (in Chinese). Chin Sci Bull (Chin Ver), 2013, 58: 961, doi: 10.1360/972012-1094.

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