Lab News

Congratulations to Robert Hunter, Adam Mungroo and Murugan Veerapandian for winning the 2016 Visual Challenge (pdf) Contest by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.  The BioNano Lab team has been winning this contest for the 5th consecutive year and clearly demonstrates research excellence. 

2016 - PDF

2015 - PDF

2013 and 2014 - PDF 

2012 - PDF 

2010 and 2011 - PDF 



Towards Precision Livestock Farming - Nano-Biosensors Developed by the BioNanoLab, University of Guelph Team

Ontario Leads the Way - Advanced Diagnostic Solutions made possible by BioNano Laboratory of UofG will position Ontario as a major leader in the global $20 Billion per annum Precision Agriculture and Livestock Farming Market. Innovative detection and advanced biosensor technologies will provide new growth potential for livestock farmers.

BioNano Lab team under the direction of Professor Suresh Neethirajan has developed numerous sensing tools and technologies for on-farm, rapid disease detection. In the recent past, the lab has filed 3 US patents, and published over 50 peer-reviewed high impact international scientific journal articles in the area of biosensors.  Few examples are given below.





SERS based point-of-care detection of food-borne pathogens

 Nawfal Adam Mungroo & Gustavo Oliveira & Suresh Neethirajan


The authors have developed a microfluidic platform for improved detection of pathogenic bacteria by using silver nanoparticles and new platforms for chemometric data analysis, viz. a combination of principle component analysis and linear discriminant analysis. The method can distinguish eight key foodborne pathogens (E. coli, S. typhimirium, S. enteritis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, L. monocytogenes, L. innocua, MRSA 35 and MRSA 86) and, hence, holds good promise for use in the food industry.

Keywords    Microfluidics . Food safety . Food analysis . Principle component analysis . Linear discriminant analysis . Silver nanoparticles . Raman spectroscopy

Mungroo, N., G. Oliveira, S. Neethirajan. 2015. SERS based point-of-care detection of food-borne pathogens. Microchimica acta.  doi: 10.1007/s00604-015-1698-y   (link

Characterization of antimicrobial efficacy of photocatalytic polymers against food-borne biofilms

Xuan Weng, Jan van Niekerk, Suresh Neethirajan, Keith Warriner

LWT Food Science and Technology (link)  doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2015.11.063



•    TiO2 polymer coatings were tested against food-borne bacterial pathogens.
•    Antimicrobial activity strength is dependent on the length of UV irradiation.
•    H2O2 radical was generated by the polymer coating.
•    TiO2 photocatalytic polymer coatings are ideal for the development self-cleaning surfaces.



Biofouling of food industry equipment and other surfaces that food products contact during processing is a threat to food safety, which results in infectious outbreaks and economic losses due to corrosion, equipment impairment, and reduced heat transfer efficiency. Once firmly attached to a surface, biofilms can be almost impossible to remove using current sanitation procedures. Self-cleaning surfaces with TiO2 coatings that are activated with ultraviolet (UV) light may be effective in preventing bacterial growth or killing or removing adherent organisms but require studies to demonstrate their efficacy and determine optimum conditions for use. Therefore, we examined the efficacy of TiO2-based polymer coatings against key food-borne pathogens namely, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Salmonella typhimurium. Upon photo-catalytic activation of the coatings, the viability of early stage biofilms formed on each coated surface and the relative contribution of reactive oxygen species was evaluated. Results show that the relative antimicrobial activity strength was dependent on the length of UV irradiation; 5-10 minutes exposure was sufficient to inhibit/kill biofilms of each pathogenic species tested. The results of this study render contact surfaces less attractive for pathogenic biofilms while doubling as an effective mitigation strategy to remove biofilms that form despite coating.

GryphSens machine uses a drop of cow’s blood to test for diseases that can cause inflammation or reduce immunity response

The University of Guelph has developed a device that promises to make testing easier for two different dairy diseases.

The GryphSens is a device that allows diary producers to test for non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) in their animals without having to send samples to a laboratory.

“If the farmers have the opportunity to do the test by themselves rather than shipping the samples to the lab, it adds not only convenience but more of a early warning system,” said Suresh Neethirajan, the project’s principal researcher.

The device uses a droplet of cow blood, which is put onto a cartridge and inserted into the digital reading system.

The screen on the system will let the producer know if the cow has NEFA or BHBA.

The device should provide producers with an early warning system so they can adapt strategies to help, which might entail changes in feed and housing.

“So the farmers can once in a while test it on the farm, and if there are further concerns then they can call for the veterinarians,” Neethirajan said.


Neethirajan hopes the new device will offer a lower cost testing option for producers.

“The idea is to bring down the two disease detection to probably $2 per test for both NEFA and BHBA. Right now, the test costs $10 to $20,” Neethirajan said.

David Hobson and Andrea Weeks, from the Catalyst Centre at the University of Guelph are working on the commercialization for GryphSens.

They have filed a U.S. provisional patent and are in talks with various companies to have one of them manufacture the device and put it on the market.

They expressed hope that a milking robotic machine company would pick up the technology, so a cow could be tested every time it is milked.

“So really the game here is early detection. So that’s why we think inline monitoring. So every time a cow is coming in to get milked, if you can see that it’s trending upwards…. It provides a trigger point for people to then get in-volved,” Hobson said.


Depending on which company takes over commercialization, consumers could see the GryphSens on the market in about two years.

Dr. John Ayres, veterinarian at Norsask Veterinary Group in Rosthern, Sask., sees the GryphSens as promising.

“Sounds interesting. There are products like that on the market right now to one degree or another. Some of them will test blood, some of them will test milk, some of them will test urine,” Ayres said.

Ayres said a device of this kind would be more effective if it could test a whole herd of cattle instead of an individual cow.

“Usually the best results I’ve seen from whatever technology they’re using is to use it as a herd level test to indicate whether you’ve got a herd level nutritional issue kind of thing,” Ayres said.

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Bionanotechnology Laboratory
Suresh Neethirajan

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University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario
Canada N1G 2W1

Room 3513 - Richards Building
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Lab: THRN 2133 BioNano Lab

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