Nanotheranostics 2018; 2(2):184-196. doi:10.7150/ntno.22114

Research Paper

Penicillin Detection by Tobacco Mosaic Virus-Assisted Colorimetric Biosensors

Claudia Koch1, Arshak Poghossian2,3, Michael J. Schöning2,3, Christina Wege1✉

1. Institute of Biomaterials and Biomolecular Systems, University of Stuttgart, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
2. Institute of Nano- and Biotechnologies, FH Aachen, Campus Jülich, 52428 Jülich, Germany
3. Institute of Complex Systems (ICS-8), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52525 Jülich, Germany

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Koch C, Poghossian A, Schöning MJ, Wege C. Penicillin Detection by Tobacco Mosaic Virus-Assisted Colorimetric Biosensors. Nanotheranostics 2018; 2(2):184-196. doi:10.7150/ntno.22114. Available from

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The presentation of enzymes on viral scaffolds has beneficial effects such as an increased enzyme loading and a prolonged reusability in comparison to conventional immobilization platforms. Here, we used modified tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) nanorods as enzyme carriers in penicillin G detection for the first time. Penicillinase enzymes were conjugated with streptavidin and coupled to TMV rods by use of a bifunctional biotin-linker. Penicillinase-decorated TMV particles were characterized extensively in halochromic dye-based biosensing. Acidometric analyte detection was performed with bromcresol purple as pH indicator and spectrophotometry. The TMV-assisted sensors exhibited increased enzyme loading and strongly improved reusability, and higher analysis rates compared to layouts without viral adapters. They extended the half-life of the sensors from 4 - 6 days to 5 weeks and thus allowed an at least 8-fold longer use of the sensors. Using a commercial budget-priced penicillinase preparation, a detection limit of 100 µM penicillin was obtained. Initial experiments also indicate that the system may be transferred to label-free detection layouts.

Keywords: tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), antibiotic detection, pH indicator, viral enzyme nanocarrier, penicillinase, enzyme shelf-life