A Biosensor to Detect Pesticides

Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento - Instituto de Ciencias

April 21, 2014 | 3 ′ 44 ′′


A Biosensor to Detect Pesticides


Researchers work in the development of a sensor capable of detecting the presence of pesticides in the crop’s place by a person who doesn’t require a high level of professional training. The experts use electrochemistry so that the design of the sensor permits to detect deltamethrin in field conditions, which is used within the application package of transgenic soy.

The use of pesticides has been considered as a revolution in agriculture due to their capacity to attack certain plagues and insects which put at risk the vegetal health of crops, in general, of commercial crops.

The problem is that with one inadequate application the pesticide comes in touch with the earth and water, which brings effects to people’s health and the environment. Then, it is important to measure and understand what happens with pesticides not only in crops, but also in the soil and water which sustain production.

Although there are many techniques currently used to measure the influence of pesticides in the productive system, a team of researchers in Environmental Chemistry of the Instituto de Ciencias of the Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento (UNGS) works in an alternative method.

“The research objective is to design a biosensor which permits to detect deltamethrin in field conditions; it is an insecticide used in transgenic soy. In a biosensor there is a recognition layer, which is ‘sensitive’, in this case to deltamethrin. In other words, the problem would be like having a group of different keys into a shoes box and design a lock to try to fish just one key from that group”, explained to Argentina Investiga the chemist Javier Montserrat, director of the research called “Sensores aptaméricos de base electroquímica para deltametrina”.

The biosensor’s work will be to recognize that key, in this case the deltamethrin molecule present in the pesticide and generate an electric signal, whose intensity will vary according to the amount of deltamethrin detected.

“The biosensor has a biorecognition layer formed by aptamers that we are trying to design. Basically aptamers are DNA or ARN sequences which have the capacity to recognize specific molecules. When deltamethrin goes in touch with this biorecognition layer, the sensor generates an electric signal we are interested in measuring”, describes Silvana Ramírez, chemist and co-director of the research project.

The idea is to use electrochemistry to translate the molecular event into an electric signal: “Maybe electrochemistry is a less known field for many of us, but it gives us great opportunities because, for example, it would permit us to miniaturize this device and make it transportable to the field”, says Ramírez.

As Montserrat states, one of the distinctive characteristics of this research is that it gathers three specialized fields: phytosanitary products’ chemistry, nucleic acids’ chemistry and electrochemistry, with the final aim of generating an alternative method to measure the influence of pesticides not only in the laboratory, but also in the crop’s place and by a person who does not require a high level of professional training.

Comunicación
prensa@ungs.edu.ar
Marcela Bello
Comunicación y Prensa UNGS


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