Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) was evaluated as a technique to characterize strains of the nitrogen-fixing actinomycete Frankia. MALDI-TOF MS reliably distinguished 37 isolates within the genus Frankia and assigned them to their respective host infection groups, i.e., the Alnus/Casuarina and the Elaeagnus host infection groups. The assignment of individual strains to sub-groups within the respective host infection groups was consistent with classification based on comparative sequence analysis of nifH gene fragments, confirming the usefulness of MALDI-TOF MS as a rapid and reliable tool for the characterization of Frankia strains.
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