This study reports a novel, fast, easy, and sensitive detection method for bacteria which is urgently needed to diagnose infections in their early stages. Our work presents a complex of poly(amidoamine) dendrimer modified by phenylboronic acid and labeled by a fluorescent dansyl group (Dan-B8.5-PAMAM). Our system detects bacteria in 20 min with a sensitivity of approximately 104 colony-forming units (CFU)·mL−1 . Moreover, it does not require any peculiar technical skills or expensive materials. The driving force for bacteria recognition is the binding between terminal phenylboronic acids on the probe and bacteria’s surface glycolipids, rather than electrostatic interactions. The aggregation caused by such binding reduces fluorescence. Even though our recognition method does not distinguish between live or dead bacteria, it shows selective antibacterial activity towards Gram-negative bacteria. This study may potentially contribute a new method for the convenient detection and killing of bacteria.
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