Quantum-Dot-Based Lateral Flow Immunoassay for Detection of Neonicotinoid Residues in Tea Leaves

Neonicotinoid insecticides are commonly used for pest control on tea plantations as a result of their broad-spectrum activity. However, neonicotinoid residues released from tea leaves into tea infusions pose a dietary risk to consumers. Therefore, a rapid, sensitive, and reliable on-site detection method for neonicotinoids is needed. We developed a quantum-dot-based fluorescent lateral flow immunochromatographic strip (LFICS) combined with a broad-specific antibody for detection of typical neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, imidaclothiz, and clothianidin), with sensitivities [50% inhibitory concentration (IC50)] of 0.104–0.33 ng/mL and visual detection limits of 0.5–1 ng/mL. The strip assay could be completed in less than 30 min. Using the LFICS to analyze spiked tea samples (green tea, black tea, and oolong tea), the average recovery of the three neonicotinoids ranged between 71 and 111%, with the coefficient of variation below 12%. The results from the LFICS tests for field samples were consistent with results from ultraperformance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. The newly developed strip is a useful tool for the on-site detection of neonicotinoid residues in tea.