Pesticide residue detection is a hot issue in the quality and safety of agricultural grains. A novel method for accurate detection of pirimiphos-methyl residues in wheat was developed using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and chemometric methods. A simple pretreatment method was conducted to extract pirimiphos-methyl residue from wheat samples, and highly effective gold nanorods were prepared for SERS measurement. Raman peaks assignment was calculated using density functional theory. The Raman signal of pirimiphos-methyl can be detected when the concentrations of residue in wheat extraction solution and contaminated wheat is as low as 0.2 mg/L and 0.25 mg/L, respectively. Quantification of pirimiphos-methyl was performed by applying regression models developed by partial least squares regression, support vector machine regression and random forest with principal component analysis using different preprocessed methods. As for the contaminated wheat samples, the relative deviation between gas chromatography-mass spectrometry value and predicted value is in the range of 0.10%–6.63%, and predicted recovery is 94.12%–106.63%, ranging from 23.93 mg/L to 0.25 mg/L. Results demonstrated that the proposed SERS method is an effective and efficient analytical tool for detecting pirimiphos-methyl in wheat with high accuracy and excellent sensitivity.
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