Filamentous fungi are frequently involved in food spoilage and cause important food losses and substantial economic damage. Their rapid and accurate identification is a key step to better manage food safety and quality. In recent years, MALDI-TOF MS has emerged as a powerful tool to identify microorganisms and has successfully been applied to the identification of filamentous fungi especially in the clinical context. The aim of this study was to implement a spectral database representative of food spoilage molds. To this end, after application of a standardized extraction protocol, 6477 spectra were acquired from 618 fungal strains belonging to 136 species and integrated in the VITEK MS database. The performances of this database were then evaluated by cross-validation and ∼95% of correct identification to the species level was achieved, independently of the cultivation medium and incubation time. The database was also challenged with external isolates belonging to 52 species claimed in the database and 90% were correctly identified to the species level. To our best knowledge, this is the most comprehensive database of food-relevant filamentous fungi developed to date. This study demonstrates that MALDI-TOF MS could be an alternative to conventional techniques for the rapid and reliable identification of spoilage fungi in food and industrial environments.
Keywords: Filamentous fungi; Food spoilage; Identification; MALDI-TOF MS.
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