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Adv Appl Microbiol. 2010;71:149-84. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2164(10)71006-6. Epub 2010 Feb 20.

Microbial fingerprinting using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) applications and challenges.

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Department of Biology and Microbiology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Halsey Science Center, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA.


Recent threats posed by pathogenic microorganisms in food, recreational waters, and as agents of bioterror have underscored the need for the development of more rapid, accurate, and cost-effective methods of microbial characterization and identification. This chapter focuses on the use of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) to rapidly characterize and identify microorganisms through generation of characteristic fingerprints of intact cells. While most efforts have focused on bacteria, this technology has also been applied to fungi and viruses. Results of most studies suggest that MALDI-TOF MS can be used to rapidly and accurately characterize microorganisms. A variety of quantitative approaches have been employed in the analysis of MALDI-TOF MS fingerprints of microorganisms. The reproducibility of fingerprints of intact cells remains a primary concern and limitation associated with this approach. Protocols and instrumentation used have varied considerably and likely account for much of the variability in reproducibility reported. Key first steps to overcoming this limitation will be the development of standard approaches to quantifying reproducibility and the development of standard protocols for sample preparation and analysis.

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