Rapid Classification and Identification of Microcystis aeruginosa Strains Using MALDI-TOF MS and Polygenetic Analysis

PLoS One. 2016 May 26;11(5):e0156275. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156275. eCollection 2016.


Matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) was used to establish a rapid, simple, and accurate method to differentiate among strains of Microcystis aeruginosa, one of the most prevalent types of bloom-forming cyanobacteria. M. aeruginosa NIES-843, for which a complete genome has been sequenced, was used to characterize ribosomal proteins as biomarkers and to optimize conditions for observing ribosomal proteins as major peaks in a given mass spectrum. Thirty-one of 52 ribosomal subunit proteins were detected and identified along the mass spectrum. Fifty-five strains of M. aeruginosa from different habitats were analyzed using MALDI-TOF MS; among these samples, different ribosomal protein types were observed. A polygenetic analysis was performed using an unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic means and different ribosomal protein types to classify the strains into five major clades. Two clades primarily contained toxic strains, and the other three clades contained exclusively non-toxic strains. This is the first study to differentiate cyanobacterial strains using MALDI-TOF MS.

MeSH terms

  • Microcystis / classification
  • Microcystis / genetics*
  • Microcystis / metabolism*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phylogeny
  • Ribosomal Proteins / genetics*
  • Ribosomal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ribosome Subunits / genetics
  • Ribosome Subunits / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Ribosomal Proteins

Grant support

The present study was supported by the Jiangsu Environmental Monitoring Foundation, China (Project No.1411), to LWS.