Colorimetric allergenic fungal spore detection using peptide-modified gold nanoparticles

Joung In Lee, Seok Cheon Jang, Jinhyo Chung, Woong Ku Choi, Caleb Hong, Geum Ran Ahn, Seong Hwan Kim, Byung Yang Lee, Woo Jae Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid and sensitive detection of allergenic fungal spores is of great interest owing to the potentially negative impact of these spores on personal and public health and safety. We present a simple and prompt colorimetric strategy for detecting Aspergillus niger based on interactions between fungal spores and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) modified with a specific binding peptide. The A. niger spore-binding peptide ligand was identified by phage display screening, which exhibited enhanced affinity through multivalent effects with specificity over common airborne bacteria. Immobilization of peptide ligands on AuNPs enabled rapid binding to A. niger spores, resulting in a visible change in the color intensity of the supernatant after sedimentation of the spores. This simple colorimetric approach displayed a high sensitivity of ∼50 spores and a rapid detection time of <10 min when used with a smartphone-based image analysis application. This strategy can be adapted for the simple and rapid detection of target microorganisms of relatively large size by exploiting the specificity of ligands and the optical properties of gold nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128894
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning ( NRF-2016M3A7B4909581 ), and by the Korean government (MIST) (No. 2019R1A2C1006856 ). This research was also supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) , funded by the Ministry of Education ( 2017R1A6A1A03015642 ). J.I.L. and S.C.J. contributed equally to this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aspergillus niger spore
  • Colorimetric detection
  • Fungi sensor
  • Gold nanoparticle
  • Peptide ligand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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