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Biotechnology Advances
Vol. 32, No. 1, 2014; Pages: 230–241

Identification of fungal microorganisms by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry

Jana Chalupová, Martin Raus, Michaela Sedlárová, Marek Šebela

Department of Protein Biochemistry and Proteomics, Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Faculty of Science, Palacký University, Šlechtitelů 11, CZ-783 71 Olomouc, Czech Republic.


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has emerged as a reliable tool for fast identification and classification of microorganisms. In this regard, it represents a strong challenge to microscopic and molecular biology methods. Nowadays, commercial MALDI systems are accessible for biological research work as well as for diagnostic applications in clinical medicine, biotechnology and industry. They are employed namely in bacterial biotyping but numerous experimental strategies have also been developed for the analysis of fungi, which is the topic of the present review. Members of many fungal genera such as AspergillusFusariumPenicillium or Trichoderma and also various yeasts from clinical samples (e.g. Candida albicans) have been successfully identified by MALDI-TOF MS. However, there is no versatile method for fungi currently available even though the use of only a limited number of matrix compounds has been reported. Either intact cell/spore MALDI-TOF MS is chosen or an extraction of surface proteins is performed and then the resulting extract is measured. Biotrophic fungal phytopathogens can be identified via a direct acquisition of MALDI-TOF mass spectra e.g. from infected plant organs contaminated by fungal spores. Mass spectrometric peptide/protein profiles of fungi display peaks in the m/z region of 1000–20 000, where a unique set of biomarker ions may appear facilitating a differentiation of samples at the level of genus, species or strain. This is done with the help of a processing software and spectral database of reference strains, which should preferably be constructed under the same standardized experimental conditions.

Keywords: Biotyping; Fungi; Identification; Intact cell/spore mass spectrometry; MALDI; Mildew; Peptide; Protein; Taxonomy; Yeasts.

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