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Pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) detection through tuned nanoparticles enhancement study

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This study aims to detect pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria using non-destructive fluorescence microscopy and micro-Raman spectroscopy.


Raman vibrational spectroscopy provides additional information regarding biochemical changes at the cellular level. We have used two nanomaterials zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) and gold nanoparticles (Au-NPs) to detect pathogenic E. coli. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) with energy dispersive X-ray (EDAX) spectroscopy exhibit surface morphology and the elemental composition of the synthesized NPs. The metal NPs are useful contrast agents due to the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) to detect the signal intensity and hence the bacterial cells. The changes due to the interaction between cells and NPs are further correlated to the change in the surface charge and stiffness of the cell surface with the help of the fluorescence microscopic assay.


We conclude that when two E. coli strains (MTCC723 and MTCC443) and NPs are respectively mixed and kept overnight, the growth of bacteria are inhibited by ZnO-NPs due to changes in cell membrane permeability and intracellular metabolic system under fluorescence microscopy. However, SPR possessed Au-NPs result in enhanced fluorescence of both pathogens. In addition, with the help of Raman microscopy and element analysis, significant changes are observed when Au-NPs are added with the two strains as compared to ZnO-NPs due to protein, lipid and DNA/RNA induced conformational changes.

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The author Gargibala would like to thank for Prof Roy Mahapatra, iMEMS (Laboratory of Integrative Multiscale Engineering Materials and Systems), Prof Siva Umapathy, IPC (Inorganic Physical Chemistry), IISc, Bangalore and BIHER, Chennai management provided the permission and facility to do the above work. DRM and GS thankfully acknowledge funding support through project IDC-Water under the Indo-German Science and Technology (IGSTC) 2 + 2 program to carry out the research.


This work was funded by the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC), Foundation Grant IDC-Water/16/2017.

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Correspondence to E. Manikandan or D. Roy Mahapatra or Siva Umapathy.

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Satpathy, G., Chandra, G.K., Manikandan, E. et al. Pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) detection through tuned nanoparticles enhancement study. Biotechnol Lett (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10529-020-02835-y

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  • E. coli
  • Bacteria
  • Pathogen
  • Gold and ZnO nanoparticles
  • Raman
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy