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Colorimetric Detection of Staphylococcus aureus Contaminated Solutions without Purification

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journal contribution
posted on 11.11.2016, 00:00 by Pamela Tiet, Karen C. Clark, James O. McNamara, Jacob M. Berlin
Current water quality monitoring methods rely on growth-based measurements to detect fecal indicator bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and enterococci, and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). These growth-based measurements, however, can take days to complete. This is a significant limitation in the evaluation of contaminated food and water sources. Various methods for selective in vitro detection of S. aureus have also been reported; however, these strategies, such as ELISA, agar-diffusion, PCR, or liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry, all require overnight culturing or sophisticated instrumentation. There is a pressing need for a portable, simple diagnostic for S. aureus. Here, we demonstrate that oligonucleotide-functionalized gold nanoparticles (Oligo-AuNPs) can be designed to rapidly and selectively detect S. aureus with a colorimetric readout. We have functionalized a chemically modified 11-mer sequence onto AuNPs and have found that aggregation occurs in the presence of S. aureus supernantants. The particles can be stored as a lyophilized powder and reconstituted at time of use, and this has been tested in biologically relevant samples such as creek and ocean water. This approach requires minimal sample preparation and requires no extraneous instrumentation, leading to a rapid and simple diagnostic read-out that could be used in field tests to monitor food and water sources.