Towards direct detection of tetracycline residues in milk with a gold nanostructured electrode

Magdalena R. Raykova, Katie McGuire, William J. Peveler, Damion K. Corrigan, Fiona L. Henriquez, Andrew C. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Tetracycline antibiotics are used extensively in veterinary medicine, but the majority of the administrated dose is eliminated unmodified from the animal through various excretion routes including urine, faeces and milk. In dairy animals, limits on residues secreted in milk are strictly controlled by legislation. Tetracyclines (TCs) have metal chelation properties and form strong complexes with iron ions under acidic conditions. In this study, we exploit this property as a strategy for low cost, rapid electrochemical detection of TC residues. TC-Fe(III) complexes in a ratio of 2:1 were created in acidic conditions (pH 2.0) and electrochemically measured on plasma-treated gold electrodes modified with electrodeposited gold nanostructures. DPV measurements showed a reduction peak for the TC-Fe(III) complex that was observed at 50 mV (vs. Ag/AgCl QRE). The limit of detection in buffer media was calculated to be 345 nM and was responsive to increasing TC concentrations up to 2 mM, added to 1 mM FeCl3. Whole milk samples were processed to remove proteins and then spiked with tetracycline and Fe(III) to explore the specificity and sensitivity in a complex matrix with minimal sample preparation, under these conditions the LoD was 931 nM. These results demonstrate a route towards an easy-to-use sensor system for identification of TC in milk samples taking advantage of the metal chelating properties of this antibiotic class.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0287824
Number of pages18
JournalPLOS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2023


  • tetracyclines
  • detection
  • milk
  • dairy cattle


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