Exploring MALDI-TOF MS approach for a rapid identification of : M. Ricchi et al.Mycobacterium avium: M. Ricchi et al. ssp. : M. Ricchi et al.paratuberculosis: M. Ricchi et al. field isolates: M. Ricchi et al.

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The aim of the study was to explore the suitability of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for a rapid and correct identification of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) field isolates.

Methods and Results

MALDI-TOF MS approach is becoming one of the most popular tests for the identification of intact bacterial cells which has been shown to be fast and reliable. For this purpose, 36 MAP field isolates were analysed through MALDI-TOF MS and the spectra compared with two different databases: one provided by the vendor of the system employed (Biotyper ver. 3·0; Bruker Daltonics) and a homemade database containing spectra from both tuberculous and nontuberculous Mycobacteria. Moreover, principal component analysis procedure was employed to confirm the ability of MALDI-TOF MS to discriminate between very closely related subspecies. Our results suggest MAP can be differentiated from other Mycobacterium species, both when the species are very close (M. intracellulare) and when belonging to different subspecies (M. avium ssp. avium and M. avium ssp. silvaticum).


The procedure applied is fast, easy to perform, and achieves an earlier accurate species identification of MAP and nontuberculous Mycobacteria in comparison to other procedures.

Significance and Impact of the Study

The gold standard test for the diagnosis of paratuberculosis is still isolation of MAP by cultural methods, but additional assays, such as qPCR and subculturing for determination of mycobactin dependency are required to confirm its identification. We have provided here evidence pertaining to the usefulness of MALDI-TOF MS approach for a rapid identification of this mycobacterium among other members of M. avium complex.

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