Nanoscale detection of bacteriophage triggered ion cascade Conference Paper uri icon


  • In an era of potential bioterrorism and pandemics of antibiotic-resistant microbes, bacterial contaminations of food and water supplies is a major concern. There is an urgent need for the rapid, inexpensive and specific identification of bacteria under field conditions. Here we describe a method that combines the specificity and avidity of bacteriophages with fluctuation analysis of electrical noise. The method is based on the massive, transitory ion leakage that occurs at the moment of phage DNA injection into the host cell. The ion fluxes require only that the cells be physiologically viable (i.e., have energized membranes) and can occur within seconds after mixing the cells with sufficient concentrations of phage particles. To detect these fluxes, we have constructed a nano-well. a lateral, micronsize capacitor of titanium electrodes with gap size of 150 nm, and used it to measure the electrical field fluctuations in microliter (mm 3 ) samples containing phage and bacteria. In mixtures where the analyte bacteria were sensitive to the phage, large stochastic waves with various time and amplitude scales were observed, with power spectra of approximately 1/f 2 shape over at 1 - 10 Hz. Development of this SEPTIC (SEnsing of Phage-Triggered Ion Cascades) technology could provide rapid detection and identification of live, pathogenic bacteria on the scale of minutes, with unparalleled specificity. The method has a potential ultimate sensitivity of 1 bacterium/microliter (1 bacterium/mm 3 ).

name of conference

  • Fluctuations and Noise in Biological, Biophysical, and Biomedical Systems III

published proceedings

  • Fluctuations and Noise in Biological, Biophysical, and Biomedical Systems III

author list (cited authors)

  • Dobozi-King, M., Seo, S., Kim, J. U., Cheng, M., Kish, L. B., & Young, R.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Dobozi-King, M||Seo, S||Kim, JU||Cheng, M||Kish, LB||Young, R

editor list (cited editors)

  • Stocks, N. G., Abbott, D., & Morse, R. P.

publication date

  • January 2005