Current status of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry in clinical microbiology

Tsung Yun Hou, Chuan Chiang-Ni, Shih Hua Teng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Mass spectrometry (MS) is a type of analysis used to determine what molecules make up a sample, based on the mass spectrum that are created by the ions. Mass spectrometers are able to perform traditional target analyte identification and quantitation; however, they may also be used within a clinical setting for the rapid identification of bacteria. The causative agent in sepsis is changed over time, and clinical decisions affecting the management of infections are often based on the outcomes of bacterial identification. Therefore, it is essential that such identifications are performed quickly and interpreted correctly. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometer is one of the most popular MS instruments used in biology, due to its rapid and precise identification of genus and species of an extensive range of Gram-negative and -positive bacteria. Microorganism identification by Mass spectrometry is based on identifying a characteristic spectrum of each species and then matched with a large database within the instrument. The present review gives a contemporary perspective on the challenges and opportunities for bacterial identification as well as a written report of how technological innovation has advanced MS. Future clinical applications will also be addressed, particularly the use of MALDI-TOF MS in the field of microbiology for the identification and the analysis of antibiotic resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-414
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Food and Drug Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 04 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Antibiotic susceptibility testing
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Microbiology
  • Microorganism identification


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