MALDI-TOF-Based Dermatophyte Identification
MALDI-TOF MS has become increasingly popular for microorganism identification in the routine laboratory. Compared with conventional morphology-based techniques, MALDI-TOF is relatively inexpensive (per-unit identification), involves a rapid result turnaround time and yields more accurate results without the need for highly qualified staff. However, this technology has been technically difficult to implement for filamentous fungi identification. Identification of dermatophytes, a type of filamentous fungi, remains particularly challenging, partly due to the lack of clear species definition for some taxa or within some species complexes. Review of the ten studies published between 2008 and 2015 shows that the accuracy of MALDI-TOF MS-based identification varied between 13.5 and 100 % for dermatophytes. This variability was partly due to inconsistencies concerning critical steps of the routine clinical laboratory process. Use of both a complete formic acid-acetonitrile protein extraction step and a manufacturer library supplemented with homemade reference spectra is essential for an accurate species identification. This technique is conversely unaffected by variations in other routine clinical laboratory conditions such as culture medium type, incubation time and type of mass spectrometry instrument. Provided that a reference spectra library is adequate for dermatophyte identification, MALDI-TOF MS identification is more economical and offers an accuracy comparable to that of DNA sequencing. The technique also represents an advantageous alternative to the protracted and labor-intensive dermatophyte identification via macroscopic and microscopic morphology in the routine clinical laboratory.
KeywordsMass spectrometry Dermatophyte Identification Performance Clinical laboratory
We thank Sandra Moore for proofreading the manuscript.
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