Effectual Gold Nanoprobe Sensor for Screening Horse Adulteration in Meat Products

  •  Dimitra Houhoula    
  •  Meropi Kouzilou    
  •  Constantine Tzogias    
  •  Vassiliki Kyrana    
  •  Constantine Sflomos    
  •  John Tsaknis    
  •  Vladimiros Lougovois    


A gold nanoparticle (AuNP) probe strategy for testing meat authenticity was developed, which relies on the colorimetric differentiation of a particular DNA sequence, due to the differential aggregation profiles exhibited by the AuNPs in the presence or absence of specific target hybridization. Gold nanoparticles were conjugated with thiolated oligonucleotides for specifically identifying a 69 bp fragment of the horse cytochrome b gene. In the presence of a complementary target preventing aggregation of the AuNPs when acid was added, the reaction mixtures retained the original pink colouration of the colloidal particles, whereas they turned purple in the opposite event. Fresh meatballs, prepared using pure bovine meat, were used as blanks, producing a purplish coloured solution with a peak at ≥570nm. Horse meat was used as positive control and the pink colour obtained after hybridization exhibited maximum absorption at 524 nm. Both the specificity and sensitivity of the tests performed were 100%. Visual observations and spectroscopic data indicated that the coloration produced by the AuNPs (positive-pink, negative-purple) was very stable, showing no change under normal laboratory conditions. The use of AuNPs for the colorimetric detection of DNA targets from undeclared species in meat products provides an inexpensive and easy-to-perform alternative to common molecular assays. The technology described here can be further developed to accommodate detection of many cases of adulteration and fraudulent practices.

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