An Algorithm for Automated Bacterial Identification Using Matrix-Assisted Laser desorption/ionization Mass Spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2000 Mar 15;72(6):1217-23. doi: 10.1021/ac990832j.


An algorithm for bacterial identification using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry is being developed. This mass spectral fingerprint comparison algorithm is fully automated and statistically based, providing objective analysis of samples to be identified. Based on extraction of reference fingerprint ions from test spectra, this approach should lend itself well to real-world applications where samples are likely to be impure. This algorithm is illustrated using a blind study. In the study, MALDI-MS fingerprints for Bacillus atrophaeus ATCC 49337, Bacillus cereus ATCC 14579T, Escherichia coli ATCC 33694, Pantoea agglomerans ATCC 33243, and Pseudomonas putida F1 are collected and form a reference library. The identification of test samples containing one or more reference bacteria, potentially mixed with one species not in the library (Shewanella alga BrY), is performed by comparison to the reference library with a calculated degree of association. Out of 60 samples, no false positives are present, and the correct identification rate is 75%. Missed identifications are largely due to a weak B. cereus signal in the bacterial mixtures. Potential modifications to the algorithm are presented and result in a higher than 90% correct identification rate for the blind study data, suggesting that this approach has the potential for reliable and accurate automated data analysis of MALDI-MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Automation
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques*
  • Species Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*