NCCOS-funded researchers at the University of Maine have developed a new, hand-held device for pathogen detection. The portable, easy-to-use, and inexpensive design of this sensor meets key use needs of volunteer and government public health, water, and shellfish monitoring personnel. Researchers plan to give these instruments to Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) harmful algal bloom monitoring volunteers this summer. With NOAA support, the sensor is also being incorporated in marine monitoring in the Republic of Korea.
The device uses a colorimetric bioassay to detect targeted ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequences in harmful algal cells and shows results comparable to more complicated and expensive bench-top spectrophotometers.The new sensor can rapidly identify and quantify toxigenic Alexandrium species from mixed field samples. These toxigenic microalgae - responsible for New England "red tides" - can taint shellfish, which, when eaten by people and animals, can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.
This research was published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics .
For more information, contact Marc.Suddleson@noaa.gov.