Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for Identification of Bacterial Isolates From Horses

J Equine Vet Sci. 2020 Dec;95:103276. doi: 10.1016/j.jevs.2020.103276. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is used for bacterial identification by analyzing the spectra of isolates and comparing them against a database of reference spectra; it is known for its rapidity and accuracy. Although MALDI-TOF MS is used for identification of bacterial isolates from animals, not all animal pathogens are identified correctly. In this study, we used a commercial MALDI-TOF MS identification system to examine 3724 bacterial isolates from horses and their environments. Isolates that could not be identified with MALDI-TOF MS were identified by 16S rRNA gene sequence taxonomic analysis. MALDI-TOF MS could identify 86.2% of the isolates from horses to the species level, showing that this method could be successfully applied for bacterial identification in horses. However, some species known to be equine pathogenic agents including Taylorella equigenitalis and Rhodococcus equi were difficult to identify with MALDI-TOF MS, which might be the result of an inadequate reference database. Some Prevotella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus isolates, which could not be identified with either MALDI-TOF MS or 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis, formed clusters in the 16S rRNA phylogenic tree, and might be unknown species isolated from horses. Adding the spectra of isolates identified in this study to an in-house database might make MALDI-TOF MS a more useful tool for identifying equine isolates.

Keywords: 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis; Bacteria; Horse; MALDI-TOF MS.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Horses
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / veterinary
  • Staphylococcus
  • Taylorella equigenitalis*


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S