Real-time environmental surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 aerosols

Joseph V. Puthussery, Dishit P. Ghumra, Kevin R. McBrearty, Brookelyn M. Doherty, Benjamin J. Sumlin, Amirhossein Sarabandi, Anushka Garg Mandal, Nishit J. Shetty, Woodrow D. Gardiner, Jordan P. Magrecki, David L. Brody, Thomas J. Esparza, Traci L. Bricker, Adrianus C.M. Boon, Carla M. Yuede, John R. Cirrito, Rajan K. Chakrabarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Real-time surveillance of airborne SARS-CoV-2 virus is a technological gap that has eluded the scientific community since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Offline air sampling techniques for SARS-CoV-2 detection suffer from longer turnaround times and require skilled labor. Here, we present a proof-of-concept pathogen Air Quality (pAQ) monitor for real-time (5 min time resolution) direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 aerosols. The system synergistically integrates a high flow (~1000 lpm) wet cyclone air sampler and a nanobody-based ultrasensitive micro-immunoelectrode biosensor. The wet cyclone showed comparable or better virus sampling performance than commercially available samplers. Laboratory experiments demonstrate a device sensitivity of 77–83% and a limit of detection of 7-35 viral RNA copies/m3 of air. Our pAQ monitor is suited for point-of-need surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants in indoor environments and can be adapted for multiplexed detection of other respiratory pathogens of interest. Widespread adoption of such technology could assist public health officials with implementing rapid disease control measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3692
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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