Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of dodecanethiol have been formed on gold electrodes to produce nanoscale defects. These defects define nucleation sites for the electrodeposition of mushroom shaped platinum nanoparticles (PtNPs). The top surfaces of these PtNPs have been selectively functionalized with single stranded probe DNA. These regioselectively modified particles were desorbed by applying a current jump to yield nanoparticles capable of biorecognition on the top curved side and efficient electrocatalysis on the nonfunctionalized lower surface. A second electrode was functionalized with single stranded capture DNA that has a sequence that is complementary to the pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus but leaves a section of the target available to bind the probe strand immobilized on the PtNPs. Following hybridization of the target and capture strands, the surface was exposed to the probe DNA labeled electrocatalytic PtNPs. Target binding was detected by monitoring the current associated with the reduction of hydrogen peroxide in a solution of 0.01 M H2SO4. Calibration plots of the log[DNA] versus faradaic current were linear from 10 pM to 1 mu M and picomolar concentrations could be detected without the need for amplification of the target, for example, using PCR or NASBA. As well as a wide dynamic range, this detection strategy has an excellent ability to discriminate DNA mismatches and a high analytical sensitivity.