ATP-driven bioluminescence relying on the D-luciferin-luciferase reaction is widely employed for several biosensing applications where bacterial ATP detection allows to verify microbial contamination for hygiene monitoring in hospitals, food processing and in general for cell viability studies. Several ATP kit assays are already commercially available but a user-friendly ATP biosensor characterized by low-cost, portability, and adequate sensitivity would be highly valuable for rapid and facile on site screening.
Thanks to an innovative freeze-drying procedure, we developed a user-friendly, ready-to-use and stable ATP sensing paper biosensor that can be combined with smartphone detection. The ATP sensing paper includes a lyophilized “nano-lantern” with reaction components being rapidly reconstituted by 10 μL sample addition, enabling detection of 10−14 mol of ATP within 10 min. We analysed urinary microbial ATP as a biomarker of urinary tract infection (UTI), confirming the capability of the ATP sensing paper to detect the threshold for positivity corresponding to 105 colony-forming units of bacteria per mL of urine.