A simple colorimetric probe based on anti-aggregation of AuNPs for rapid and sensitive detection of malathion in environmental samples

  • Dongxian Li
  • Shun Wang
  • Ling Wang
  • Hao ZhangEmail author
  • Jiandong Hu
Research Paper


In this study, a simple colorimetric probe was developed for rapid and highly sensitive detection of malathion based on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) anti-aggregation mechanism. A certain amount of NaOH can cause the aggregation of citrate-stabilized AuNPs due to the electrostatic interactions, and the color of AuNP solution changes from wine-red to gray. While in the presence of malathion, malathion is easily hydrolyzed in a strong alkali environment (pH > 9), followed by the production of a mass of negative charges, and thus the aggregated AuNPs turns to well-dispersed and the color of AuNP solution changes from gray to wine-red. This characteristic change can be visualized with the naked eye and quantitatively detected by an ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectrometer. Under optimized conditions, this probe exhibited a linear response to malathion in the concentration range of 0.05–0.8 μM with a limit of detection (LOD) down to 11.8 nM. The probe also showed good specificity for malathion detection in the presence of other interfering pesticide residues. Furthermore, the probe was successfully employed to detect malathion in environmental samples, with a recovery of 94–107% and a relative standard deviation (RSD) less than 8%. The results demonstrated that the proposed colorimetric probe based on anti-aggregation of AuNPs could be used for quantitative analysis of malathion and provided great potential for malathion determination in environmental samples.


Colorimetric probe Gold nanoparticles Anti-aggregation Malathion Environmental samples 



This research was financially supported by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2017M612399), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31671581), the Science and Technology Project of Henan Province (No. 182102110427 and 182102110250), the Science and Technology Innovation Project of Henan Agricultural University (No. KJCX2018A09), and the Natural Science Foundation of Henan Province (No. 162300410143).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2019_1703_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (361 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 361 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Mechanical and Electrical EngineeringHenan Agricultural UniversityZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Wheat and Maize Crop ScienceZhengzhouChina

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