Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 6, pp 1805–1815 | Cite as

Gold nanoparticle-based colorimetric sensing of dipicolinic acid from complex samples

Research Paper


Dipicolinic acid (DPA) can cause neurotoxicity and is abundant in bacterial spores. Although analytical methods have been reported for DPA detection with high sensitivity, their selectivity toward DPA is declined greatly in the presence of phosphates in the samples. In this study, we developed an approach for DPA detection that is not affected by the presence of phosphates. A colorimetric method based on the use of gold nanoparticles (AuNP) complexed with Ca2+ as sensing agents was explored for DPA detection. Calcium ions and glutathione-capped gold nanoparticles (AuNPs@GSH) can easily form complexes (Ca2+-AuNP@GSH) through GSH-Ca2+ chelation, leading to the aggregation of AuNPs@GSH. The aggregation resulting from the complexes of AuNPs@GSH and Ca2+ can be reversed with the addition of DPA owing to the high formation constant (log Kf = 4.4) between DPA and Ca2+. Furthermore, the color of AuNPs@GSH changes from red to purple when complexed with Ca2+, returning to red upon addition of DPA. The limit of detection of this sensing method toward DPA was estimated to be as low as ~ 2 μM. The feasibility of using the sensing method for quantitative detection of DPA in soil and Bacillus cereus spore samples was also demonstrated.

Graphical abstract

A AuNP-based colorimetric sensing method against dipicolinic acid is developed.


Gold nanoparticles Dipicolinic acid Colorimetric sensing Bacterial spores 



We thank the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (MOST102-2113-M-009-019-MY3) for financial support of this research. MMFB thanks NCTU for providing him International Student Scholarship. We also thank Miss Ya-Ling Yang for her help in drawing the graphical abstract.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2017_836_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1.08 mb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied ChemistryNational Chiao Tung UniversityHsinchuTaiwan

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