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Signature molecules derived from Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus thuringiensis, and Salmonella Typhimurium were detected directly on food substrates (mega) by coupling molecular beacon technology utilizing fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET), luminescent nanoscale semiconductor quantum dots, and nanoscale quenchers. We designed target DNA sequences for detecting hlyA, Bt cry1Ac, and invA genes from L. monocytogenes, B. thuringiensis and Salmonella Typhimurium, respectively, and prepared molecular beacons for specific targets for use in real-time monitoring. We successfully detected increased fluorescence in the presence of signature molecules at molecular beacon (MB) concentrations from 1.17 nM to 40 nM, depending upon system tested in (water, milk or plant leaves), respective target (hlyA, Bt cry1Ac, or invA) and genomic DNA target concentration (50-800 ng). We were able to detect bacterial genomic DNA derived from L. monocytogenes and Salmonella sp. in a food system, 2% milk (> 20% of total volume). Furthermore, we infiltrated the Bt cry1Ac beacon in the presence of genomic DNA extracted from B. thuringiensis into Arabidopsis thaliana leaves and observed increased fluorescence in the presence of the target, indicating the ability to use these beacons in a plant system.