Development of a computationally-designed polymeric adsorbent specific for mycotoxin patulin
Patulin is a toxic compound which is found predominantly in apples affected by mould rot. Since apples and apple-containing products are a popular food for the elderly, children and babies, the monitoring of the toxin is crucial. This paper describes a development of a computationally-designed polymeric adsorbent for the solid-phase extraction of patulin, which provides an effective clean-up of the food samples and allows the detection and accurate quantification of patulin levels present in apple juice using conventional chromatography methods. The developed bespoke polymer demonstrates a quantitative binding towards the patulin present in undiluted apple juice. The polymer is inexpensive and easy to mass-produce. The contributing factors to the function of the adsorbent is a combination of acidic and basic functional monomers producing a zwitterionic complex in the solution that formed stronger binding complexes with the patulin molecule. The protocols described in this paper provide a blueprint for the development of polymeric adsorbents for other toxins or different food matrices.