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Development of paper-based color test-strip for drug detection in aquatic environment: Application to oxytetracycline.

  • Gomes, Helena I A S1
  • Sales, M Goreti F2
  • 1 BioMark, Sensor Research, School of Engineering of the Polytechnique Institute of Porto, Portugal; Industrial Laborum Ibérica, Lab Integrated Systems, Portugal. , (Portugal)
  • 2 BioMark, Sensor Research, School of Engineering of the Polytechnique Institute of Porto, Portugal. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Portugal)
Published Article
Biosensors & bioelectronics
Publication Date
Mar 15, 2015
DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2014.10.006
PMID: 25461138


The wide use of antibiotics in aquaculture has led to the emergence of resistant microbial species. It should be avoided/minimized by controlling the amount of drug employed in fish farming. For this purpose, the present work proposes test-strip papers aiming at the detection/semi-quantitative determination of organic drugs by visual comparison of color changes, in a similar analytical procedure to that of pH monitoring by universal pH paper. This is done by establishing suitable chemical changes upon cellulose, attributing the paper the ability to react with the organic drug and to produce a color change. Quantitative data is also enabled by taking a picture and applying a suitable mathematical treatment to the color coordinates given by the HSL system used by windows. As proof of concept, this approach was applied to oxytetracycline (OXY), one of the antibiotics frequently used in aquaculture. A bottom-up modification of paper was established, starting by the reaction of the glucose moieties on the paper with 3-triethoxysilylpropylamine (APTES). The so-formed amine layer allowed binding to a metal ion by coordination chemistry, while the metal ion reacted after with the drug to produce a colored compound. The most suitable metals to carry out such modification were selected by bulk studies, and the several stages of the paper modification were optimized to produce an intense color change against the concentration of the drug. The paper strips were applied to the analysis of spiked environmental water, allowing a quantitative determination for OXY concentrations as low as 30ng/mL. In general, this work provided a simple, method to screen and discriminate tetracycline drugs, in aquaculture, being a promising tool for local, quick and cheap monitoring of drugs.

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