The influence of incubation time, sample preparation and exposure to oxygen on the quality of the MALDI-TOF MS spectrum of anaerobic bacteria

A. C.M. Veloo, P. E. Elgersma, A. W. Friedrich, E. Nagy, A. J. van Winkelhoff

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48 Citations (Scopus)


With matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), bacteria can be identified quickly and reliably. This accounts especially for anaerobic bacteria. Because growth rate and oxygen sensitivity differ among anaerobic bacteria, we aimed to study the influence of incubation time, exposure to oxygen and sample preparation on the quality of the spectrum using the Bruker system. Also, reproducibility and inter-examiner variability were determined. Twenty-six anaerobic species, representing 17 genera, were selected based on gram-stain characteristics, growth rate and colony morphology. Inter-examiner variation showed that experience in the preparation of the targets can be a significant variable. The influence of incubation time was determined between 24 and 96 h of incubation. Reliable species identification was obtained after 48 h of incubation for gram-negative anaerobes and after 72 h for gram-positive anaerobes. Exposure of the cultures to oxygen did not influence the results of the MALDI-TOF MS identifications of all tested gram-positive species. Fusobacterium necrophorum and Prevotella intermedia could not be identified after >24 h and 48 h of exposure to oxygen, respectively. Other tested gram-negative bacteria could be identified after 48 h of exposure to oxygen. Most of the tested species could be identified using the direct spotting method. Bifidobacterium longum and Finegoldia magna needed on-target extraction with 70% formic acid in order to obtain reliable species identification and Peptoniphilus ivorii a full extraction. Spectrum quality was influenced by the amount of bacteria spotted on the target, the homogeneity of the smear and the experience of the examiner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)O1091-O1097
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Anaerobic bacteria
  • Identification
  • Pre-analytical conditions
  • Quality spectrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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