Dermatophyte identification using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry

Elitza S. Theel, Leslie Hall, Jayawant Mandrekar, Nancy L. Wengenack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The performance of the Bruker Biotyper matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometer (MS) for the identification of dermatophytes from clinical cultures was compared to that of dermatophyte identification using 28S rRNA gene sequencing. The MALDI Biotyper library (MBL; version 3.0) was used alone and in combination with a supplemented library containing an additional 20 dermatophyte spectra (S-MBL). Acquired spectra were interpreted using both the manufacturer-recommended scores (genus, ≥1.7; species, ≥2.0) and adjusted cutoff values established by this study (genus, ≥1.5; species, ≥1.7); identifications required a minimum 10% difference in scores between the top two different organisms to be considered correct. One hundred well-characterized, archived dermatophyte isolates and 71 fresh dermatophyte cultures were evaluated using both libraries and both sets of cutoff criteria. Collectively, the S-MBL significantly outperformed the MBL at both the genus (93% versus 37.4%; P < 0,0001) and species (59.6% versus 20.5%; P < 0.0001) levels when using the adjusted score criteria. Importantly, application of the lowered cutoff values significantly improved genus (P = 0.005)- and species (P < 0.0001)-level identification for the S-MBL, without leading to an increase in misidentifications. MALDI-TOF MS is a cost-effective and rapid alternative to traditional or molecular methods for dermatophyte identification, provided that the reference library is supplemented to sufficiently encompass clinically relevant, intraspecies strain diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4067-4071
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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