Selective Sensing and Imaging of Penicillium italicum Spores and Hyphae Using Carbohydrate-Lectin Interactions

Idris Yazgan, Jing Zhang, Victor Kariuki, Ayfer Akgul, Lauren E. Cronmiller, Ali Akgul, Francis Osonga, Abbey McMahon, Yang Gao, Gaddi Eshun, Seokheun Choi, Omowunmi A. Sadik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The blue-green mold Penicillium italicum is among the most problematic post-harvest plant infections limiting the integrity of citrus and many other crops during storage and transportation, but there is no sensor for its on-site or field detection. We hereby, for the first time, report the development of novel biomolecular sensor for assessing the presence of P. italicum spores and hyphae using carbohydrate-lectin recognitions. Two approaches were developed: (i) lateral tests using standalone poly(amic) acid (PAA) membranes and glass surfaces and (ii) quantitative tests on 96-well polystyrene plates and paper electrodes. In both cases, the surfaces were functionalized with novel derivatized sugar based ligands while staining was performed with gold nanoparticles. Both approaches provided strong signals for 104 spores/mL of P. italicum isolated from experimentally infected lemons as the lowest-reliable concentration. The 96-well plate-based gave the most sensitive detection with a 4 × 102 spores/mL limit of detection, a linear dynamic range between 2.9 × 103 and 6.02 × 104 spores/mL (R2 = 0.9939) and standard deviation of less than 5% for five replicate measurements. The selectivity of the ligands was tested against Trichaptum biforme, Glomerulla cingulata (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides), and Aspergillus nidulans fungi species. The highest selectivity was obtained using the sugar-based gold-nanoparticles toward both the spores and the hyphae of P. italicum. The advanced specificity was provided by the utilized sugar ligands employed in the synthesis of gold nanoparticles and was independent from size and shapes of the AuNPs. Accuracy of the sensor response showed dramatic dependence on the sample preparation. In the case of 5-10 min centrifugation at 600 rpm, the spores can be isolated free from hyphae and conidiophore, for which spiked recovery was up to 95% (std ±4). In contrast, for gravity-based precipitation of hyphae, the spiked recovery was 88% (std 11).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-654
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 23 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


  • Penicillium italicum
  • field applications
  • gold nanoparticles
  • hyphae
  • lectins
  • spores
  • sugar ligands


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