Selected Projects

Rapid Detection of Mycotoxins in Agriculture Products Based on Nanoparticles

Food contamination by mold toxins (mycotoxins) is a ubiquitous problem and can cause severe health issues as well as high financial losses for food processing companies. For this reason, food producers must ensure that used raw materials, such as grain and milk, are free from contaminations. For this purpose a quick test will be developed within the MykoNANO project, which will enable the reliable detection of several mycotoxins below the legal threshold in approximately 30 minutes based on a competitive magnetic immunoassay. This is achieved by the coupling of monoclonal antibodies to magnetic nanoparticles that specifically bind to any mycotoxin-contaminations that may arise. In the following, the magnetic beads are quantified by a portable device and an associated smartphone app which allow the documentation of the results.

Nanoprobe-based drinking water analysis for the rapid detection of biological contamination (AquaNANO)

© Fraunhofer IME | Florian Schröper

The aim of the AquaNANO project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is to develop and establish a novel analytical approach for the rapid and on-site identification of biological contaminants in drinking water. Such a tool would enable aid organizations (such as the German federal agency Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk) responsible for drinking water supplies following major catastrophic events to analyze large quantities of water in a few minutes. The same approach can also be used for routine drinking water analytics, e.g. to detect Legionella contamination in public or private supply systems.

Rapid diagnosis of plant pathogens in agriculture based on antibody technologies (AgroGuard)

© Fraunhofer IME | Max Schubert

Plant pathogens cause significant (>20%) yield losses in major crops such as rice and maize during cultivation and post-harvest storage. Current disease and post-harvest control measures are expensive. Chemical fungicides in particular remain a major input cost in agriculture, especially in areas where high humidity and unfavorable weather provide ideal conditions for pathogens. Farmers and growers are motivated to limit the application of chemicals, thus reducing their input costs, but there is also a significant environmental justification and therefore growing pressure from politicians and consumers alike to find environmentally beneficial and sustainable approaches for disease management in agriculture. Therefore the early identification of plant pathogens is essential to ensure that appropriate action can be taken to fight plant pathogens.

Improved productivity and resource-use efficiency in crop plants (Biomass)

© Fraunhofer IME | Greta Nölke

Optimizing crop yields is one of the major current challenges facing agricultural research. One way to boost productivity is to enhance photosynthetic efficiency, because photosynthetic carbon assimilation is a bottleneck that restricts plant growth.

We have developed a novel approach to enhance resource-use efficiency, promote growth and increase yields in tobacco and potato by introducing a glycolate dehydrogenase multi-subunit fusion protein.

Scan and microdissection platform for high-throughput screening based on a cell-free protein expression system (HTS-Scan)

© Fraunhofer IME | Matthias Buntru

The aim of the project is the development of a new high-throughput screening system based on a recently developed cell-free protein expression platform to accelerate the search for new candidate therapeutic and technical proteins. Fraunhofer IME is responsible for the production of the biological components and the development of an agarose-based thin-layer in vitro transcription-translation (IVTT) system. In cooperation with LightFab, the latest developments in cell-free protein expression and laser material processing will be combined to create a new laser microdissection (LMD) platform for high-throughput screening. This platform will enable both automated and manual screening and the dissection of arbitrarily-shaped and positioned objects at rates of 100–20,000 events per second.