Skip to main content


Novel SPR biosensor developed

Research Achievements

Novel SPR biosensor developed

Amber Bratcher has developed a novel surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensor for rapid in-situ detection of Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) species. Toxin producing species are difficult to distinguish morphologically from non-toxin producing species. Her sensor uses peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes for RNA detection of species of Alexandrium. These probes are highly discriminating, resistant to protease and nuclease degradation, and hybridize in low salt concentrations, making them ideal for field use. Her instrument is small, portable, and able to obtain results within minutes. Side-by-side comparisons of her instrument against the industry standard Biacore Q instrument. showed higher magnitude of SPR response to varying concentrations of oligonucleotide sequences and a lower limit of detection. She is also able to detect RNA extracted from A. fundyense cultured in the lab, and has a rapid field-based protocol for the extraction of RNA from water samples collected at bloom sites