A Novel Portable Detection Device for Neonicotinoids: Surveillance of their Presence and Link to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

Period of Performance: 05/21/2015 - 12/31/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Applied Biomathematics, Inc.
100 N COUNTRY RD Array
Setauket, NY 11733
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


There is a growing body of evidence that neonicotinoid based insecticides are partly responsible for the so-called bee colony collapse disorder in which entire colonies of Western honey bees die off. However, many experts believe that more scientific research is needed before supporting a ban of these pesticides to take them off the market. Seacoast is developing an innovative analytical device to allow more frequent field measurements and reduce costs associated with pesticide monitoring. This portable detection device targets the detection of neonicotinoids on crops and soil and can be expanded to analyze a wide range of other pesticides. The analytical instrument is compact for field applications, low-cost, and easy-to-use to permit wide-range measurement of the insecticide's presence. Most importantly, the system design is based on well established chromatography principles with a highly sensitive detector module. This proposal presents both novel instrument design and materials engineering approaches to conceive a field useable neonicotinoid analyzer with sufficient analytical power but ease-of-use for broad applicability. To accomplish the proposed objectives, Seacoast Science, Inc. is partnering with Colnatec, LLC, two small sized technology companies, to combine their expertise in instrument design and high sensitivity sensor systems. The innovative analyzer is composed of Seacoast's next generation miniature gas chromatograph with Colnatec's advanced, high-resolution quartz crystal microbalance sensor. The system is designed to operate predominately with ambient air as the carrier gas with single parts-per-billion sensitivities.The economic impact of the decline of honeybee colonies ranges in the billions of dollars due to the reduction of effectively pollinated crops. Researchers approximate that nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the US have vanished. To protect its bees, Europe banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides last year, while U.S. authorities have so far taken a more cautious approach in gaining more scientific data on the presence of these insecticides throughout the agricultural landscape. The early adopters of Seacoast's proposed neonicotinoid detection system include large industrial farms and nurseries, beekeepers and academic and federal research groups; a $12M market, but with the expansion of the analyzer into the broader pesticide detection market, the market size grows to >$18M accordingly.