Irrigation water is a primary source of fresh produce contamination by bacteria during the preharvest, particularly in hydroponic systems where the control of pests and pathogens is a major challenge. In this work, we demonstrate the development of a Listeria biosensor using platinum interdigitated microelectrodes (Pt-IME). The sensor is incorporated into a particle/sediment trap for the real-time analysis of irrigation water in a hydroponic lettuce system. We demonstrate the application of this system using a smartphone-based potentiostat for rapid on-site analysis of water quality. A detailed characterization of the electrochemical behavior was conducted in the presence/absence of DNA and Listeria spp., which was followed by calibration in various solutions with and without flow. In flow conditions (100 mL samples), the aptasensor had a sensitivity of 3.37 ± 0.21 k log-CFU-1 mL, and the LOD was 48 ± 12 CFU mL-1 with a linear range of 102 to 104 CFU mL-1. In stagnant solution with no flow, the aptasensor performance was significantly improved in buffer, vegetable broth, and hydroponic media. Sensor hysteresis ranged from 2 to 16% after rinsing in a strong basic solution (direct reuse) and was insignificant after removing the aptamer via washing in Piranha solution (reuse after adsorption with fresh aptamer). This is the first demonstration of an aptasensor used to monitor microbial water quality for hydroponic lettuce in real time using a smartphone-based acquisition system for volumes that conform with the regulatory standards. The aptasensor demonstrated a recovery of 90% and may be reused a limited number of times with minor washing steps.
Keywords: SNAPS; electrochemical sensing; food safety; foodborne pathogen; fresh produce; interdigitated electrodes; sensor analytic point solution.