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A novel fluorescent “turn-on” aptasensor based on nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots and hexagonal cobalt oxyhydroxide nanoflakes to detect tetracycline

Abstract

In this study, a novel fluorescent “turn-on” aptasensor was developed for sensitive and rapid detection of tetracycline (TC) in animal-derived food. It is based on aptamer-functionalized nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots (N-GQDs-aptamer) coupled with cobalt oxyhydroxide (CoOOH) nanoflakes. The CoOOH nanoflakes are efficient fluorescence quenchers in homogeneous solutions, and this is due to their advantages of excellent optical properties, superior flexibility, and water dispersibility. The proposed method’s mechanism is driven by quenching based on the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the donor (N-GQDs) and the acceptor (CoOOH nanoflakes). On the other hand, fluorescence recovery is caused by the structure switching behavior of the aptamer. Compared with previous methods, our developed method exhibits better behavior in terms of being easy to fabricate and being simple in detection procedure and maintains the detection limit low enough in TC determination: a linear range from 1 to 100 ng mL−1 and a detection limit of 0.95 ng mL−1 (S/N = 3). Furthermore, the proposed method was applied to five animal-derived food samples (milk, honey, fish, eggs, and chicken muscle) and demonstrated practical applicability. As well, the method has the advantages of simplicity in pre-treatment and convenience in instruments, saves times, and is cost-effective. Finally, the proposed method demonstrates significant potential for sensitive and rapid detection of specific components in real samples.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2016YFD0401202) and the Special Project of Tianjin Innovation Platform (No. 17PTGCCX00230).

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Correspondence to Junping Wang or Shuo Wang.

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Zhang, L., Wang, J., Deng, J. et al. A novel fluorescent “turn-on” aptasensor based on nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots and hexagonal cobalt oxyhydroxide nanoflakes to detect tetracycline. Anal Bioanal Chem 412, 1343–1351 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-019-02361-5

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Keywords

  • Aptamer
  • Cobalt oxyhydroxide nanoflakes
  • Fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • Graphene quantum dots
  • Structure switching