Original Research

Use of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation-time of flight mass spectrometry analyser in a diagnostic microbiology laboratory in a developing country

Atang Bulane, Anwar Hoosen
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 6, No 1 | a598 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v6i1.598 | © 2017 Atang Bulane, Anwar Hoosen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 December 2016 | Published: 08 December 2017

About the author(s)

Atang Bulane, Department of Medical Microbiology & Virology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Anwar Hoosen, Department of Medical Microbiology & Virology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Background: Rapid and accurate identification of pathogens is of utmost importance for management of patients. Current identification relies on conventional phenotypic methods which are time consuming. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is based on proteomic profiling and allows for rapid identification of pathogens.

Objective: We compared MALDI-TOF MS against two commercial systems, MicroScan Walkaway and VITEK 2 MS.

Methods: Over a three-month period from July 2013 to September 2013, a total of 227 bacteria and yeasts were collected from an academic microbiology laboratory (N = 121; 87 Gramnegatives, seven Gram-positives, 27 yeasts) and other laboratories (N = 106; 35 Gram-negatives, 34 Gram-positives, 37 yeasts). Sixty-five positive blood cultures were initially processed with Bruker Sepsityper kit for direct identification.

Results: From the 65 blood culture bottles, four grew more than one bacterial pathogen and MALDI-TOF MS identified only one isolate. The blood cultures yielded 21 Gram-negatives, 43 Gram-positives and one Candida. There were 21 Escherirchia coli isolates which were reported by the MALDI-TOF MS as E. coli/Shigella. Of the total 292 isolates, discrepant results were found for one bacterial and three yeast isolates. Discrepant results were resolved by testing with the API system with MALDI-TOF MS showing 100% correlation.

Conclusion: The MALDI-TOF MS proved to be very useful for rapid and reliable identification of bacteria and yeasts directly from blood cultures and after culture of other specimens. The difference in time to identification was significant for all isolates. However, for positive blood cultures with minimal sample preparation time there was a massive difference in turn-around time with great appreciation by clinicians.


MALDI-TOF MS; MicroScan Walkaway; VITEK 2 MS; Pathogens identification


Total abstract views: 3002
Total article views: 4129

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.