Optimized Gold Nanoparticle Aptamer-Based Sensor To Detect Boar Taint

Nana Frimpong, Josh Callahan, Ranganathan Velu, Maria DeRosa


Boar taint is an unpleasant natural aroma that can be detected when cooking or eating porcine samples with high levels of skatole or androstenone. To control the level of boar taint, farmers resort to early castration and immunological hormone suppression procedures in pigs. These control methods are expensive and require high technological expertise. Therefore, a fast, cost effective and simple alternative is needed to help farmers and butchers keep boar taint out of consumer pork.

Aptamers are single stranded oligonucleotides that can be used to detect small molecules with high affinity and specificity. An aptamer-based sensor using gold nanoparticles with easily measurable optical properties has been already developed to detect skatole or androstenone in consumer pork. The potential of the gold nanoparticles to aggregate in a saline medium is improved with the binding of the aptamer to a target molecule. However, the limits of detection of the sensor are unknown. In the present study, we successfully optimized the existing aptamer-based method using the gold nanoparticle-binding assay and Uv-vis analysis to enhance reproducibility, sensitivity and cost effectiveness of the sensor. DNA aptamers (SKT 1 and SKT 2) were used in the gold nanoparticle aptamer-based sensor trials because they bind with high affinity and selectivity to the skatole and androstenone targets.

The optimized gold nanoparticle-binding assay revealed that each component (DNA, sodium chloride and citrate) of the assay greatly affected the performance of the sensor. The nanoparticle-based sensor produced a colour change from pink to dark purple when skatole or androstenone targets were added after salt-induced aggregation. This can be spectophotometrically detected at 660 nm. These findings support the applicability of the optimized sensor for practical onsite use by farmers and butchers. The developed sensor has various scientific applications but further work is required to deploy and ensure successful use worldwide.


Boar taint, Aptamer, Skatole, Androstenone, Gold nanoparticles.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.