Environment monitoring, security and food quality control Molecular biology and nanomaterials for food analysis

DNA based analysis have become a very useful instrument to assess the safety and quality of the food chain. DNA testing has a broad range of applications such as detection of adulteration of food products (e.g. replacement of highly priced meat or fish species by similar but cheaper species, presence of horsemeat in food products…), identification of microorganisms that cause food-borne diseases, detection of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or identification of allergenic ingredients among others. 

DNA testing involves several steps from the food product until the final result including: (i) DNA extraction/purification from the food product, (ii) frequently the amplification of a DNA sequence through an enzymatic process that will allow us to unequivocally identify the organism(s) of interest, and (iii) the detection and/or quantification of this DNA sequence. Each of this steps can be improved with the help of nanomaterials in order to develop faster, cheaper, multiplexed and/or more sensitive methodology of analysis.

The goal of the research in this area is to combine molecular biology and nanomaterials to improve each of the steps of DNA analysis with the focus on very specific applications in food analysis. We evaluate its fitness-for-purpose and its advantages when compared with conventional methodology, in order to develop fully validated and integrated DNA based analytical methods to provide control laboratories and food industry with efficient tools for food monitoring.

Recent publications:

1. Prado, M.; Ortea, I.; Vial, S.; Rivas, J.; Calo-Mata, P.; Barros-Velázquez, J. Advanced DNA- and protein-based methods for the detection and investigation of food allergens Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (In press)

2. Vial, S., Nykypanchuk, D.; Deepak, F.L.; Prado M.; Gang O. Plasmonic response of DNA-assembled gold nanorods: Effect of DNA linker length, temperature and linker/nanoparticles ratio. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 433: 34-42 (2014)

3. Prado, M.; Boix, A.; von Holst, C. Development of a real-time PCR method for the simultaneous detection of mackerel and horse mackerel Food Control 34: 19-23 (2013)

4. Prado, M.; Kolenko, Y.V.; Rivas J. Evaluation of the effect of magnetic nanoparticles as additives on qPCR, In proceeding of 6th International qPCR-NGS 2013 Symposium: Next Generation thinking in molecular diagnostics (2013)


Group manager Marta Prado