It is rapidly becoming apparent that many E. coli pathotypes cause a considerable burden of human disease. Surveillance of these organisms is difficult because there are few or no simple, rapid methods for detecting and differentiating the different pathotypes. MALDI-TOF mass spectroscopy has recently been rapidly and enthusiastically adopted by many clinical laboratories as a diagnostic method because of its high throughput, relatively low cost, and adaptability to the laboratory workflow. To determine whether the method could be adapted for E. coli pathotype differentiation the Bruker Biotyper methodology and a second methodology adapted from the scientific literature were tested on isolates representing eight distinct pathotypes and two other groups of E. coli. A total of 136 isolates was used for this study. Results confirmed that the Bruker Biotyper methodology that included extraction of proteins from bacterial cells was capable of identifying E. coli isolates from all pathotypes to the species level and, furthermore, that the Bruker extraction and MALDI-TOF MS with the evaluation criteria developed in this work was effective for differentiating most pathotypes.
Keywords: Escherichia coli pathotype; MALDI-TOF MS; MLST; MSP; mass spectrum profile: consensus spectrum created using multiple individual spectra from replicate, different colonies of the organism tested, obtained by using specific programs within the Bruker Biotyper software.