Labchip-based diagnosis system for on-site application: Sensitive and easy-to-implement detection of single recoverable Cronobacter in infant formula without post-enrichment treatment

Tae Jin Cho, Hye Won Kim, Changhoon Yoo, Sung Woo Kim, Min Suk Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Microfluidic labchips have achieved much advancement in the molecular diagnosis of foodborne pathogens. Whereas difficulties in the flow control during the transportation of liquid fluids can occur and should be overcome. Manipulations of reaction temperature and the complex procedures from sample pre-treatment to analysis in a single chip device are major obstacles for the on-site application. Thus, the efficient temperature control of samples without any flow of reaction fluids in microfluidic channels of plastic chip and the simplest protocol omitting post-enrichment processing steps may overcome these limitations represented by the stability and the complexity, respectively. This study aims to develop a novel type of labchip and thermocycler specialized for the gene amplification in microfluidic channels and to evaluate the detectability by sensing the minimum recoverable level of Cronobacter in powdered infant formula (PIF). We developed a thermocycling device accelerating reactions through dual heating-blocks optimized to control temperatures of samples in microfluidic-channels by direct contact with labchip sequentially and repetitively. The structural design of microfluidic channels was to eliminate interference factors associated with the optical detection of fluorescent signals (without distortion due to air bubbles in the reaction chamber). To improve the applicability, a portable device and simplified operation to allow direct loading of samples in the chip without post-enrichment procedures were also adopted. Detection performance was evaluated by a sensitivity/specificity tests using 50 isolates of Cronobacter. Cross-reactivity tests for non-Cronobacter organisms and gDNA [human, raw materials of PIF (cow, soybean)] showed that there was no interference-factor causing false-positive results. In terms of the applied research conducted by using PIF, the enrichment of samples without broth medium (distilled water) displayed outstanding performance and 12 h of incubation facilitated detecting target at concentration as low as 1 CFU/300 g PIF (as initial contamination level) without post-enrichment treatment. Validation of the operation conditions using 30 commercial PIF products was also consistent. The present study presents a novel approach of microfluidic technology with perspective to not only the performance and the practicability [easy-to-implement protocol, portable materials, cost-effectiveness (the use of a miniaturized plastic chip requires a minimum level of materials)] for on-site diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108659
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug 16


  • Cronobacter
  • Dual heating-block
  • Labchip
  • Microfluidic channel
  • Molecular diagnosis
  • Powdered infant formula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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