Analytical Chemistry (prof. dr. M.W.F. Nielen)

The special Chair on Analytical Chemistry with special emphasis on the detection of chemical food contaminants has been established in 2007 within the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry. Focus of the Chair is on research in bioactivity-related detection and mass spectrometric identification of chemical contaminants in the food chain, ultimately leading to the identification of emerging unknown bioactive contaminants. Within this scope, innovations in ambient ionization mass spectrometry, biosensing, toxicology and microfluidics are being integrated.

In 2022 the following interrelated projects are being studied:

1. Multiplex screening using planar arrays of color-encoded microspheres

Classical biorecognition based screening assays, such as ELISAs, measure only one type of biointeraction at a time. Suspension or planar arrays based on color-encoded microspheres allow parallel detection of multiple binding assays in a single well. This topic is being explored for multi-detection of mycotoxins in craft beers (PhD student Jeroen Peters). Alternatively, biorecognition can be exploited as a bioaffinity sample preparation tool, prior to mass spectrometric detection, as for example in the rbST screening and confirmatory analysis challenge (PhD student Nathalie Smits). Both PhDs are writing their thesis and will graduate in 2022.

2. Advances in mass spectrometry

In 2018 a Horizon 2020 Marie Curie ITN project was granted that aims for the interfacing of immunoassays with direct ionization mass spectrometry. Flow injection electrospray ionization, DART ionization and immuno-magnetic coated blade spray have been explored for the rapid identification of lateral flow immunoassay screening results (PhD student Ariadni Geballa Koukoula). In 2020, the Marie Curie ITN project MonPlas was granted that aims for the development of technologies to monitor micro and nanoplastics in water for their presence, uptake and threat to animal and human life. In this project novel analytical workflows are being developed for the detection and identification of micro and nanoplastics in foods (PhD student Clementina Vitali).

3. Smartphone-based food quality and safety testing

The Marie Curie Innovative Training Network FoodSmartphone [] proposed the development of smartphone-based (bio)analytical sensing and diagnostic tools for simplified on-site pre-screening of quality and safety parameters and wireless data transfer to servers of relevant stakeholders. This highly successful PhD network was completed in 2021 and highlighted by the cum laude PhD graduation of Gina Ross on simplified multiplex smartphone assays for allergen detection, designed for future self-testing by consumers. PhD student Anouk Bosman started in 2021 on another portable sensing project PhotonFood [] in which advanced paper microfluidics will be integrated with portable mid infrared detection for on-site testing of mycotoxins.

Recent publications:

A. Geballa-Koukoula, A. Gerssen, M.H. Blokland, C.T. Elliott, J. Pawliszyn, M.W.F. Nielen, “Immuno-enriched microsphere - magnetic blade spray tandem mass spectrometry for domoic acid in mussels”, Anal. Chem., 93 (2021) 15736-15743.

J. Peters, E. Ash, A. Gerssen, R. van Dam, M.C.R. Franssen,  M.W.F. Nielen, “Controlled production of zearalenone-glucopyranoside standards with Cunninghamella strains using sulphate depleted media”, Toxins, 13 (2021) 366.

A. Geballa-Koukoula, A. Gerssen, M.W.F. Nielen, “From smartphone lateral flow immunoassay screening to direct MS analysis: development and validation of a semi-quantitative Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometric (DART-MS) approach to the analysis of deoxynivalenol”, Sensors, 21 (2021) 1861.

N.G.E. Smits, M.H. Blokland, K.L. Wubs, T.F.H. Bovee, B. Albada, L.A. van Ginkel, M.W.F. Nielen, “Detection of methionine and alanine recombinant bovine somatotropins and their biomarkers in serum and milk  suggests blood-milk barrier specificity for these compounds”, J. Dairy Sci., 104 (2021) 5069-5078.

P. de Haan, M.J.C. Santbergen, M. van der Zande, H. Bouwmeester, M.W.F. Nielen, E. Verpoorte, “A versatile, compartmentalised gut-on-a-chip system for pharmacological and toxicological analyses”, Sci. Rep., 11 (2021) 4920.

G.M.S. Ross, D. Filippini , M.W.F. Nielen, G.IJ. Salentijn, “Unraveling the hook effect; a comprehensive study of high antigen concentration effects in sandwich lateral flow immunoassays“, Anal. Chem., 92 (2020) 15587−15595.

G.M.S. Ross, D. Filippini , M.W.F. Nielen, G.IJ. Salentijn, “Interconnectable solid-liquid protein extraction unit and chip-based dilution for multiplexed consumer immunodiagnostics “, Anal. Chim. Acta, 1140 (2020) 190-198.

A. Geballa-Koukoula, A. Gerssen, M.W.F. Nielen, “Direct analysis of lateral flow immunoassays for deoxynivalenol using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry“, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 412 (2020) 7547–7558.