Applied Physics A

, 124:787 | Cite as

Direct conjugation of silicon nanoparticles with M13pVIII-engineered proteins to bacteria identification

  • Laura M. De Plano
  • Santi Scibilia
  • Maria Giovanna Rizzo
  • Domenico Franco
  • Angela M. MezzasalmaEmail author
  • Salvatore P. P. GuglielminoEmail author


Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are two opportunistic human pathogens among the most common agents of nosocomial infections. The early detection plays an important role in health care, and pharmacological and biomedical sectors. The use of functional nanoparticles is promising candidate to create new materials and devices to improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases in different fields of applications. In this work, we used phage-specific pVIII proteins, isolated from P9b and St.au9IVS5 phage clones, displaying exogenous peptide (QRKLAAKLT and RVRSAPSSS) to detect P. aeruginosa and S. aureus, respectively. These selective bioprobes were used in “one-step” functionalization of silicon nanoparticles (SiNPs) by pulsed laser ablation of silicon in an aqueous solution, containing phage-specific pVIII protein. The optical properties of the bioconjugates (pVIII–SiNPs) are examined by photoluminescence and UV–Vis spectroscopy. Furthermore, size distribution and ability of bioconjugates to bind its bacterial target has been investigated by scanning electron microscopy, scanning transmission electron microscopy, and epi-fluorescence microscope. Our results show that the bioconjugates are able to bind P. aeruginosa and S. aureus, respectively, within 30 min. Furthermore, the yellow–green photo-emissive properties, detected by epi-fluorescence microscopy, demonstrate their potential use as fluorescent probes silicon-based for in vitro applications.

Graphical abstract



Silicon nanoparticles


Bioconjugate of SiNPs (silicon nanoparticles) with pVIII-engineered protein isolated from P9b phage clone.

St.au9IVS5 pVIII–SiNPs

Bioconjugate of SiNPs (silicon nanoparticles) with pVIII-engineered protein isolated from St.au9IVS5 phage clone.



The authors thank Dr. F. Barreca and Prof. F. Neri for help measurements with scanning electron microscopy operating in transmission mode (STEM).

Author contributions

LP, MGR, and DF performed isolation of specific pVIII protein from P9b and St.au9IVS5 phage clones; one-step synthesis of pVIII–SiNPs bioconjugates; binding of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus to pVIII–SiNPs complexes. S.S. and A.M.M. analyzed the pVIII–SiNPs bioconjugates samples after and post-binding of P. aeruginosa. LP, MGR, DF, SS, AMM, and SG discussed and analyzed data, and wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura M. De Plano
    • 1
  • Santi Scibilia
    • 2
  • Maria Giovanna Rizzo
    • 1
  • Domenico Franco
    • 1
  • Angela M. Mezzasalma
    • 2
    Email author
  • Salvatore P. P. Guglielmino
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Sciences, Biological, Pharmaceutical and EnvironmentalUniversity of MessinaMessinaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics, Informatics, Physics and Earth SciencesUniversity of MessinaMessinaItaly

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