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J Microbiol Methods. 2011 Sep;86(3):327-36. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Evaluation of MALDI-TOF MS as a tool for high-throughput dereplication.

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Laboratory of Microbiology, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


The present study examined the suitability of matrix assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for the rapid grouping of bacterial isolates, i.e. dereplication. Dereplication is important in large-scale isolation campaigns and screening programs since it can significantly reduce labor intensity, time and costs in further downstream analyses. Still, current dereplication techniques are time consuming and costly. MALDI-TOF MS is an attractive tool since it performs fast and cheap analyses with the potential of automation. However, its taxonomic resolution for a broad diversity of bacteria remains largely unknown. To verify the suitability of MALDI-TOF MS for dereplication, a total of 249 unidentified bacterial isolates retrieved from the rhizosphere of potato plants, were analyzed with both MALDI-TOF MS and repetitive element sequence based polymerase chain reaction (rep-PCR). The latter technique was used as a benchmark. Cluster analysis and inspection of the profiles showed that for 204 isolates (82%) the taxonomic resolution of both techniques was comparable, while for 45 isolates (18%) one of both techniques had a higher taxonomic resolution. Additionally, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis was performed on all members of each delineated cluster to gain insight in the identity and sequence similarity between members in each cluster. MALDI-TOF MS proved to have higher reproducibility than rep-PCR and seemed to be more promising with respect to high-throughput analyses, automation, and time and cost efficiency. Its taxonomic resolution was situated at the species to strain level. The present study demonstrated that MALDI-TOF MS is a powerful tool for dereplication.

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