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Agent Behavior

The Food Protection and Defense Institute is a multi-disciplinary and action-oriented research consortium. Collaborations have been established at over 40 academic and private sector organizations.

This research priority area develops innovative detection, decontamination, and inactivation technologies using research on the fundamental behaviors of select chemical or biological agents in food. Research results provide guidance and capabilities to support public and private sector efforts to prevent and mitigate high-threat agents in the food supply.

Agent Behavior Publications

Research Projects

Validation of Gold Nanoparticle DNA-based Biosensors for the Detection of Non-PCR Amplified Bacterial Food Borne Pathogens in Food Matrices

Principal Investigator: 
Sylvia Vetrone
Since the intentional distribution of Bacillus anthracis spores through the US postal system in 2001, the prospect of bioterrorism in food, water, and agriculture has identified critical needs in prevention, protection, and mitigation for homeland security. Towards that end, we recently...

Advancing SERS to field technology for food defense application

Principal Investigator: 
Lili He
The use of biological and chemical toxins as terror agents on the food supply could cause catastrophic consequences to public health and severe economic impact. However, an analytical method that can rapidly detect these agents in dynamic food chains is lacking. Previously, we received NCFPD...

Development of a Multiplex Bio-barcode DNA Biosensor for Bacillus anthracis Phase II

Principal Investigator: 
Evangelyn Alocilja
The long-term goal of the above project is to develop a DNA-based detection device that will not require PCR amplification and still retain PCRsensitivity. For this particular project, the deliverables include: (1) Synthesis and characterization of the DNA probe-coated and bio-barcoded...

Modification of Sample Preparation to Differentiate Live, Injured and Dead Bacteria in Polymerase Chain Reaction Assay

Principal Investigator: 
Teshome Yehualaeshet
Accurate determination of live, damaged or injured, and dead bacteria is important in microbiology detection to avoid false alarm. Dead bacteria present after processes such as pasteurization or disinfection might present no hazard but still can be detected by Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)...

On-Site Detection of Microbial Pathogens and Chemical Toxic Agents Using Novel Sensors Based on Quantum Dot Modified Molecular Imprinted Polymers

Principal Investigator: 
Keith Warriner
On-site diagnostic tools are an essential part of emergency management given that early detection of the hazard leads to rapid containment and corrective action. However, current diagnostic devices for on-site testing are lacking, expensive or require multiple step protocols and technical expertise...

Modular and Expandable Detection Platform for Current and Potential Food Toxins and Adulterants

Principal Investigator: 
Lawrence Wackett
This project is focused on developing a platform technology for detecting hundreds of potential toxins and adulterants in foods, including newly emerging threats to the food supply. The technology relies on the release of ammonia and is based on the action of specific enzymes acting on the toxin of...

Validation of Agent Inactivation and Isolation from Food Systems

Principal Investigator: 
Alvin Lee
Validation of a process needed to eliminate a microbiological or chemical hazard in food can be difficult. Processing technologies that have shown efficacy in eliminating a hazard under laboratory conditions, usually under well controlled parameters, may not be effective against the threat agent...

Application of Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy in Detection of Chemical and Biological Terror Agents in Food Matrices II

Principal Investigator: 
Theodore Labuza
The objectives of this continuing project are to apply, improve, and validate developed SERS immunoassays to detect real ricin and anthrax spores in milk, Both antibody and aptamer will be used as capturers. The DNA aptamer is expected to give more distinct SERS patterns compared with protein...

Novel Methods for Detection of Clostridium botulinum and Botulinum Neurotoxin in Complex Food Matrices

Principal Investigator: 
Eric Johnson
Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) is the most potent biological agent known. It poses a major bioweapon and bioterrorism threat, especially in the food chain, such as in milk, juice (e.g., carrot and orange juice), various low acid foods, and water. Although much effort has been spent on...


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