MALDI meets genomics.

MabritecCentral is the largest online MALDI-TOF-MS database for bacterial identification based on WGS data. Unlike other commercial databases and software solutions, mabritecCentral’s classification is based on the detection of “marker masses” rather than a “pattern recognition” approach. In short, it combines genomics and MALDI-TOF analyses: marker masses are predicted in silico from publicly available whole genome data and validated by MALDI-TOF MS. These public data are quality controlled and taxonomic classification is cured.

Since 2010, the widespread adoption of whole genome sequencing (NGS) and the increasing availability of whole bacterial genome sequences have led to a revolution in the field of microbiology. Many new species have been described, and existing species have been renamed.

This trend continues, and we are steadily gaining a deeper understanding of bacterial virulence, resistance, and lifestyle. Intrigued by these developments and new insights, we sought ways to combine NGS/WGS knowledge with MALDI-TOF MS technology.

In 2012, we introduced a paradigm shift in the creation of MALDI-TOF MS reference databases. Instead of bacterial reference spectra, we started to create databases with insilico calculated reference protein masses, especially for ribosomal proteins. This shift from a “pattern recognition” approach to “marker-based” identification allowed us to overcome several limitations encountered in routine MALDI-TOF MS identification.

In addition to steadily increasing species coverage, several MALDI-TOF MS-specific aspects such as “spectrum quality” interpretation and “calibration” were fundamentally refined. We also improved the discrimination of closely related species using our marker-based algorithm. 

For the first time, by using ribosomal proteins, we can interpret MALDI-TOF MS spectra in a phylogenetic sense that is directly comparable to NGS/WGS data. Thus, we believe that MALDI-TOF MS, with its speed and high throughput capacity, can serve as a pre-screening or complementary method to NGS/WGS analysis.


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