Microchimica Acta

, 186:105 | Cite as

Colorimetric and visual mercury(II) assay based on target-induced cyclic enzymatic amplification, thymine-Hg(II)-thymine interaction, and aggregation of gold nanoparticles

  • Xiaolei Song
  • Yu Wang
  • Su Liu
  • Xue Zhang
  • Haiwang Wang
  • Jingfeng Wang
  • Jiadong HuangEmail author
Original Paper


A colorimetric biosensor and visual test is described for the determination of mercury(II). It relies on the specific thymine-Hg(II)-thymine (T-Hg2+-T) interaction which induces a cyclic amplification process (caused by the enzyme exonuclease III) and the aggregation of gold nanoparticles. These results in a color change from red to violet. Under optimized conditions, this colorimetric assay (best performed at 524 nm) has a detection limit as low as 0.9 nM with a detection range over 4 orders of magnitude (from 1 nM to 10 μM).

Graphical abstract

Schematic of a colorimetric method for determination of mercury ions (Hg2+) based on the thymine-Hg2+-thymine interaction-triggered cyclic enzymatic amplification and aggregation of gold nanoparticles with the aid of exonuclease III (Exo III).


Mercury ion T-Hg2+-T Exonuclease III AuNPs Visual detection UV-vis absorption 



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31471644), the Primary Research & Development Plan of Shandong Province (2017GSF220009). University of Jinan Scientific Research Fund (Youth Project XKY1421) and Doctoral Fundation of University of Jinan (XBS1431).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2018_3193_MOESM1_ESM.doc (7.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 7.18 mb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Water Conservancy and EnvironmentUniversity of JinanJinanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Biological Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of JinanJinanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Chemical Sensing & Analysis in Universities of Shandong, College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringUniversity of JinanJinanPeople’s Republic of China

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