Detection of Escherichia coli using immunomagnetic separation and bacteriophage amplification coupled with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2003;17(3):257-63. doi: 10.1002/rcm.900.


The application of whole cell analysis by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) has emerged as a valuable tool for rapidly identifying/detecting bacteria. This technique requires minimal sample preparation and is simple to perform, but is generally limited to purified samples of bacteria at concentrations greater than 1.0 x 10(6) cells/mL. In this paper, we describe a bacterial detection method that integrates immunomagnetic separation with bacteriophage amplification prior to MALDI-MS analysis. The developed method consists of three main stages: (1) isolation of a target bacterium by immunomagnetic separation; (2) infection of the immuno-captured bacterium with a lytic bacteriophage; and (3) assay of infected medium for bacteriophage progeny using MALDI-MS to produce a molecular weight signal for the virus capsid protein. With this technique, the presence of Escherichia coli in broth was determined in less then 2 h total analysis time at a concentration of approximately 5.0 x 10(4) cells/mL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / isolation & purification*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification*
  • Escherichia coli / virology*
  • Immunomagnetic Separation / methods*
  • Microbiological Techniques
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*