Autonomous detection of aerosolized Bacillus anthracis and Yersinia pestis

Anal Chem. 2003 Oct 15;75(20):5293-9. doi: 10.1021/ac034722v.


We have developed and tested a fully autonomous pathogen detection system (APDS) capable of continuously monitoring the environment for airborne biological threat agents. The system is designed to provide early warning to civilians in the event of a terrorist attack. The final APDS will be completely automated, offering aerosol sampling, in-line sample preparation fluidics, multiplexed detection and identification immunoassays, and orthogonal, multiplexed PCR (nucleic acid) amplification and detection. The system performance (current capabilities include aerosol collection, multiplexed immunoassays, sample archiving, data reporting, and alarming) was evaluated in a field test conducted in a Biosafety Level 3 facility, where the system was challenged with, and detected, a series of aerosolized releases containing two live, virulent biological threat agents (Bacillus anthracis and Yersinia pestis). Results presented here represent the first autonomous, simultaneous measurement of these agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / analysis*
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacillus anthracis / immunology
  • Bacillus anthracis / isolation & purification*
  • Bacillus subtilis / immunology
  • Bioterrorism / prevention & control
  • Cross Reactions / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry / instrumentation
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / instrumentation*
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Microbiological Techniques / methods
  • Microfluidics
  • Microspheres
  • Phycoerythrin / analysis
  • Phycoerythrin / chemistry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spores, Bacterial / immunology
  • Spores, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Yersinia pestis / immunology
  • Yersinia pestis / isolation & purification*


  • Aerosols
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Phycoerythrin