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APMIS. 2012 Feb;120(2):85-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0463.2011.02833.x. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry identification of Archaea: towards the universal identification of living organisms.

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Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes, Aix-Marseille Université, France.


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) identification of Archaea has been limited to some environmental extremophiles belonging to distant taxa. We developed a specific protocol for MALDI-TOF-MS identification of Archaea and applied it to seven environmental human-associated Methanobrevibacter smithii, Methanobrevibacter oralis, Methanosphaera stadtmanae, and the recently described Methanomassiliicoccus luminyensi Archaea. After mechanical lyse, we observed a unique protein profile for each organisms comprising 7-24 peaks ranging from 3,015 to 10,632 Da with a high quality score of 7.38 ± 1.26. Profiles were reproducible over successive experiments performed at 1, 2, and 3-week growth durations and unambiguously distinguished the Archaea from all of the 3,995 bacterial spectra in the Brüker database. After the incorporation of the determined profiles into a local database, archaeal isolates were blindly identified within 10 min with an identification score of 1.9-2.3. The MALDI-TOF-MS-based clustering of these archaeal organisms was consistent with their 16S rDNA sequence-based phylogeny. These data prove that MALDI-TOF-MS profiling could be used as a first-line technique for the identification of human Archaea. In complement to previous reports for animal cells, Bacteria and giant viruses, MALDI-TOF-MS therefore appears as a universal method for the identification of living unicellular and multicellular organisms.

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