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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 and optimization of biologically modified electrically-active magnetic nanoparticles (nano-BEAMs) for direct capture and concentration of bioterrorism agents in various food matrices

Principal Investigator: 
Evangelyn Alocilja
The existing project focuses on the synthesis and novel application of biologically modified electrically-active magnetic nanoparticles (nano-BEAMs) for sample acquisition and pre-analytical processing to render representative samples of food products ready for rapid agent detection in multiple...

Extraction of Ricin and PCB's Using Functionalized Electrospun Fibers

Principal Investigator: 
Keith Warriner
Ricin can be obtained from castor beans and PCB's are readily available from a number of industrial waste sources such as spent transformer oil. Ricin poisoning causes acute conditions and is considered by many as the most significant bioterror agent. In contrast, relatively little attention...

Simultaneous detection of multiple food safety threat agents using multiplex PCR and PCR-based microarray approaches

Principal Investigator: 
Woubit Salah Abdela
Food-borne pathogens cause millions of clinical illnesses every year and cost billions of dollars to manage and control. Several recent examples including Salmonella enterica serovar Saintpaul in produce, Escherichia coli O157:H7 in ground beef, Listeria monocytogenes in ready to eat meat have led...

Protein Complementation Based Functional Detection Assay for Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B

Principal Investigator: 
Jody Proescher
Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) is a significant cause of foodborne enteric illness and a potential biowarfare agent. A need exists for more rapid and sensitive methods to test food samples for SEB contamination with minimal sample manipulation and without complex instrumentation. A novel non-...

Proof-of-concept study for the development of a cell-free GPCR-based biosensor for rapid non-specific detection of chemical and biological toxic agents

Principal Investigator: 
Evangelyn Alocilja
This project is a high-risk/high-reward exploratory proof-of-concept work to evaluate the potential of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) as sensing elements in biosensor devices for rapid non-specific but highly sensitive detection (detect-to-warn) of toxicants in selected complex food matrices...

Development of Nontoxigenic Clostridium botulinum Toxins and Strains for Food Defense Studies (Surrogates)

Principal Investigator: 
Eric Johnson
Clostridium botulinum produces the most poisonous toxin known and is a potential major biodefense threat in various food systems. To ensure defense measures against intentional foodborne and inhalational botulism, it will be extremely valuable to have non-toxic surrogates of botulinum neurotoxin...

Melamine-Cyanuric Acid Detection System for Purposely Adulterated Foods

Principal Investigator: 
Lawrence Wackett
Melamine (2,4,6-triamino-1,3,5-triazine) has been used on numerous occasions by individuals as a food adulterant to boost the apparent nitrogen content of food. Together with cyanuric acid, melamine causes acute kidney failure. In the recent infant formula incident, 150,000 children were...

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

Principal Investigator: 
Theodore Labuza
Rapid, sensitive, and accurate detection of chemical and biological terror agents is of critical importance to monitor and prevent bioterrorism events. Conventional chromatographic techniques for chemical detection and culture techniques for bio-agent detection face serious limitations, especially...

Chemical Inactivation of Protein Toxins on Food-Contact Surfaces

Principal Investigator: 
Jack Cappozzo
Ricin and abrin are potent plant toxins found in seeds of the castor bean plant and rosary pea plant, respectively. Both toxins have potential for being used as biological weapons since they are relatively easy to isolate and purify and can be disseminated as food contaminants. In the case of a...

Impact of Select Rodenticides on the Coagulation Properties of Milk Proteins

Principal Investigator: 
Salam Ibrahim
During enzymatic coagulation of milk, three separate but overlapping processes occur: (1) enzymatic hydrolysis, (2) aggregation, and (3) gelation. These processes must occur successfully in order to produce a desirable milk coagulum for cheese production. Key to the success of these processes is...

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