Reagentless Detection and Classification of Individual Bioaerosol Particles in Seconds

David P. Fergenson, Maurice E. Pitesky, Herbert J. Tobias, Paul T. Steele, Gregg A. Czerwieniec, Scott C. Russell, Carlito B Lebrilla, Joanne M. Horn, Keith R. Coffee, Abneesh Srivastava, Segaran P. Pillai, Meng Ta Peter Shih, Howard L. Hall, Albert J. Ramponi, John T Chang, Richard G. Langlois, Pedro L. Estacio, Robert T. Hadley, Matthias Frank, Eric E. Gard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


The rapid chemical analysis of individual cells is an analytical capability that will profoundly impact many fields including bioaerosol detection for biodefense and cellular diagnostics for clinical medicine. This article describes a mass spectrometry-based analytical technique for the real-time and reagentless characterization of individual airborne cells without sample preparation. We characterize the mass spectral signature of individual Bacillus spores and demonstrate the ability to distinguish two Bacillus spore species, B. thuringiensis and B. atrophaeus, from one another very accurately and from the other biological and nonbiological background materials tested with no false positives at a sensitivity of 92%. This example demonstrates that the chemical differences between these two Bacillus spore species are consistently and easily detected within single cells in seconds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 12 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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