Portable BARDOT instrumentation for pathogen detection

Investigators: J. Paul Robinson (Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering), Euiwon Bae (School of Mechanical Engineering)

Project Report 2012 - 2013

Rapid detection of bacterial foodborne pathogens is necessary to prevent foodborne illness and safeguard public health. The optical light scattering sensor, BARDOT, is a noninvasive label-free detection system which allows identification of bacterial colonies in real-time. Developed by ARS-funded researchers at Purdue University's Center for Food Safety Engineering in West Lafayette, Indiana, BARDOT involves shining a laser light through the bacterial colony and collecting images of the light that passes through. These spectral signatures contain descriptive characteristics of bacterial colonies, which can be used to identify bacteria by comparing the resulting light scattering image with a library of previously collected images. A portable BARDOT instrument was developed this year and deployed to USDA. The instrument is able to identify known pathogenic bacteria, including E.coli O157:H7 and other Shiga-toxin producing E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes. The portable BARDOT has tremendous potential for improving the response to foodborne illness outbreaks because not only can this method properly classify foodborne pathogens, but also the portability enables the method to travel to the source thereby reducing the time to detection.