Pesticides play a major role in improving agricultural production through control of pest populations such as insects, weeds, and plant diseases. The toxicological properties of pesticides that allow them the ability to control pests also provide potential risks to humans, to the environment, and to non-target organisms that might be inadvertently exposed to pesticides. Despite their merits, pesticides are considered to be some of the most dangerous environmental contaminants because of their ability to accumulate and their long-term effects on living organisms.
The concern about the presence of pesticide residues in water, soil, and food has prompted the search for alternative methods able to detect low levels of these compounds in a simple way. Biosensors offer great advantages over conventional analytical techniques, including high specificity for real-time analysis in complex mixtures, high sensitivity, simple operation without the need for extensive sample pre-treatment, and low cost ( Liu 2013).
Immunobiosensors which can provide concentration-dependent signals, appear to be appropriate for identification of a single pesticide or, in some cases, small groups of similar pesticides in environmental monitoring, as they are rapid, specific, sensitive and cost-effective analytical devices (Mallat and Barcel´ o, 2001a
The major challenge for immunobiosensors is the development of appropriate antibodies with desired specificity and high binding ability, as these critical biological reagents are usually requiring bio-medical labs with experience in immunoassays research and development. In most cases, antibody affinity and specificity are the limiting factors of these assays.
In this context, biosensing based on nanomaterials is one of the hottest topics in nanotechnology and nanoscience. Thus, in agreement with the 5.1.10 priority theme call, through this project is intended to develop and validate high affinity antibodies against carbaryl and carbendazim / related molecules (carbaryl and carbendazim are among the most frequently detected pesticide residues in food analyses worldwide), synthesize nanoparticles/nanomaterials for biosensing application, and then to combine these compounds in order to set up at least one highly sensitive and reliable immunobiosensor for rapid detection of such compounds in horticultural products (e.g. fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, horticultural processed products, wine and other beverages).
This project will exploit the unique properties of nanomaterials (carbon based and magnetic) which could offer excellent platforms as electronic and optical signal transduction to design a new generation of biosensing devices. The research result of this project will allow to industrial partner to tackle other markets, inside and outside Romania. The end-product of this project will come under international/national economical and food safety regulation providing compact analytical devices designed for biomolecular recognition. The introduction of sensitive, easy-to-use, and fast immunodetection tools and reagents for potential harmful pesticides detection in horticultural products will really enrich the available tools for monitoring food pollutants, improve the efficiency of the early warning systems related to the quality of food and feed, and leading to an evident positive impact on the quality of life and health, on a medium and long term basis.

Project Objective

Realization of experimental model demonstrative of imunobiosensor, based on carbon nanomaterials / magnetic and antibodies for detection of carbamate pesticides (carbaryl and / or carbendazim or related molecules) in horticultural products.

Estimated results:

1. Monoclonal antibodies and / or high affinity polyclonal, directed against carbamate pesticides mentioned / similar molecules.

2. Experimental variants of nanomaterials / nanoparticles of carbon and / or magnetic, bio- funtionalizate for use in immunoassays.

3. Experimental demonstrative model of imunobiosensor / immunoassay for the detection of carbamate pesticides in horticultural products.

4. Scientific publications, scientific communications and publicity; documentation relating to property rights (intellectual / industrial).

Project start date: 01/07/2014
Project end date: 30/06/2016
Project duration (months): 24

Number of partners in the consortium: 4