Rapid identification of bacteria in positive blood culture by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2012 Mar;31(3):311-7. doi: 10.1007/s10096-011-1312-0. Epub 2011 Jun 23.


Blood culture is probably the most significant specimen used for the diagnosis of bacterial infections, especially for bloodstream infections. In the present study, we compared the resin-containing BD BACTEC™ Plus-Aerobic (Becton Dickinson), non-charcoal-containing BacT/Alert(®) SA (bioMérieux), and charcoal-containing BacT/Alert(®) FA (bioMérieux) blood culture bottles with direct identification by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). A total of 103 bacterial isolates, from clinical blood cultures, representing the most frequent 13 genera and 24 species were examined. Bacteria were extracted from positive blood culture broth by density centrifugation and then subjected to identification by MALDI-TOF MS using two different volumes and chemical treatments. Overall, correct identification by MALDI-TOF MS was obtained for the BD BACTEC™ Plus-Aerobic, BacT/Alert(®) SA, and BacT/Alert(®) FA blood culture bottles in 72%, 45.6%, and 23%, respectively, for gram-negative bacteria in 86.6%, 69.2%, and 47.1%, respectively, and for gram-positive bacteria in 60.0%, 28.8%, and 5.4%, respectively. The lack of identification was observed mainly with viridans streptococci. Depending on the blood culture bottles used in routine diagnostic procedures and the protocol for bacterial preparation, the applied MALDI-TOF MS represents an efficient and rapid method for direct bacterial identification.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / analysis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S