Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Food Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Lili He

Second Advisor

John Gibbons

Third Advisor

Mathew Moore

Fourth Advisor

Ricardo Metz

Subject Categories

Food Chemistry | Food Microbiology


Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by fungus that can be parasites or saprophytes of crops or livestock forage. Consumer demand for plant-based foods and interest in animal-based foods originating from animals fed plant-based feed has been on the rise. Therefore, monitoring mycotoxins occurring in the food supply is more critical than ever. The goal of this project is to improve surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy’s (SERS) ability to identify and detect mycotoxins using label-free SERS substrates. Two simple approaches were designed to enhance the detection of mycotoxins produced by the Aspergillus and Penicillium genera, ochratoxin A and aflatoxin B1. Ochratoxin A was successfully detected in wine samples spiked with the mycotoxin in a range of 0.01 to 1 ppm using a facile solvent-mediated extraction that showed the key role that the food matrix can play on the SERS substrate performance. The detection of aflatoxin B1’ SERS signals using bare gold nanoparticles was enhanced with the addition of human serum albumin (HSA) as a mediating molecule. A combination of the HSA-mediated protocol and a liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) method allows the detection of up to 2 ppb of AFB1 in compound feedstuff samples. Additionally, a simple SERS protocol applied to Aspergillus flavus grown in liquid and solid medium showed the technique’s capacity to classify between aflatoxigenic and non-aflatoxigenic species. Raman spectroscopy, SERS, Infrared Spectroscopy (IR) and surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy (SEIRAS) showed differences yet potential complementarity in their ability to identify mycotoxins produced by the Fusarium genus, deoxynivalenol and fumonisin B1.