Recent progress in nanomaterial-based assay for the detection of phytotoxins in foods

Qilei Chen, Lin Zhu, Jiaxuan Chen, Tao Jiang, Huazhen Ye, Hong Ji, Siuwai Tsang, Zhongzhen Zhao, Tao Yi*, Hubiao Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Phytotoxins refers to toxic chemicals derived from plants. They include both secondary metabolites that are dose-dependently toxic and allergens that can cause anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals. Detecting phytotoxins in foods is increasingly important. Conventional methods for detecting phytotoxins lack sufficient sensitivity and operational convenience. Nanomaterial-based determination assays show great competence in fast and accurate sensing of trace substances. In the present review, representative phytotoxin categories of alkaloids, cyanides, and proteins are discussed. Application of notable nanomaterials, e.g. carbon nanotubes, graphene oxide, magnetic nanoparticles, metal-based nanotools, and quantum dots, in specific sensing strategies to fit the physiochemical properties of the target toxins are summarized. Nanomaterials mainly play four roles in phytotoxin detection: 1) analyte enricher; 2) sensor structure mediator; 3) target recognizer or reactant; 4) signaling agent. Great achievements have been made in the detection of trace plant-derived toxins in food matrices, yet there are still challenges awaiting further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-178
Number of pages17
JournalFood Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Food Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Food safety
  • Graphene oxide
  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Nanomaterials
  • Toxins


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