Aptamer Capture and Optical Interferometric Detection of Cyanobacteria

EPA Grant Number: R833839
Title: Aptamer Capture and Optical Interferometric Detection of Cyanobacteria
Investigators: Campbell, Daniel P , Ellington, Andy , Xu, Jie
Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology , The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Project Period: June 1, 2008 through April 30, 2011 (Extended to January 31, 2013)
Project Amount: $600,000
RFA: Development and Evaluation of Innovative Approaches for the Quantitative Assessment of Pathogens and Cyanobacteria and Their Toxins in Drinking Water (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Water


Cyanobacterial toxins have been identified as a health risk in source and finished waters passing through drinking water utilities in the United States. In this project, a rapid, sensitive and field usable sensor based on an aptamer modified planar waveguide interferometric sensor will be developed to detect, identify and quantify types of cyanotoxins including the high priority neurotoxins anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin and microcystin-LR in source water.


Aptamers specific to anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin and microcystin-LR will be selected and evaluated. The aptamers will be used as recognition elements on waveguide’s sensing surface. The sensing assays will be characterized for their sensitivity, specificity, stability and matrix effects. Both unspiked and spiked water samples with the target toxins will be measured using the aptamer coated waveguide interferometric sensor. Commercial ELISA tests and/or a published protocol using LC/MS for the detection of cyanobacteria toxin will be used as a comparison to the waveguide results.

Expected Results:

The success of this program will lead to a development of a sensitive, rapid and field-deployable device which can be used to identify and quantify various Cyanobacterial toxins in water. This tool will provide state and local water utilities with an in-line and real-time measure of these potential health threats by reducing the risk of human and animal exposure to these toxins.

Supplemental Keywords:

Cyanobacteria, Cyanobacterial toxin, aptamer, interferometric sensor, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Water, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Environmental Monitoring, Drinking Water, Environmental Engineering, microbial contamination, microbial risk assessment, monitoring, real time analysis, gene microarray assay, aquatic organisms, other - risk assessment, early warning, drinking water contaminants, drinking water system

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2008
  • 2009 Progress Report
  • 2010
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • Final Report