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Need for database extension for reliable identification of bacteria from extreme environments using MALDI TOF mass spectrometry

Anna Kopcakova, Zuzana Stramova, Simona Kvasnova, Andrej Godany, Zuzana Perhacova, and Peter Pristas

Institute of Animal Physiology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Soltesovej 4-6, 04001, Kosice, Slovakia



Abstract: The ability of MALDI TOF MS (matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry) to identify cultivable microflora from two waste disposal sites from non-ferrous metal industry was analysed. Despite the harsh conditions (extreme pH values and heavy metal content in red mud disposal site from aluminium production or high heavy metal content in nickel sludge), relatively high numbers of bacteria were recovered. In both environments, the bacterial community was dominated by Gram-positive bacteria, especially by actinobacteria. High-quality MALDI TOF mass spectra were obtained but most of the bacteria isolates could be not identified using MALDI Biotyper software. The overall identification rate was lower than 20 %; in two of the environments tested identification rates were lower than 10 %. As a dominant bacterial species, Microbacterium spp. in drainage water from an aluminium red mud disposal site near Žiar nad Hronom, Bacillus spp. in red mud samples from the same site, and Arthrobacter spp. from nickel smelter sludge near Sereï were identified by a combination of the Biolog system and 16S rRNA sequence analysis. As the primary focus of the MALDI TOF MS-based methodology is directed towards medically important bacteria, reference database spectra expansion and refinement are needed to improve the ability of MALDI TOF MS to identify environmental bacteria, especially those from extreme environments.

Keywords: waste – environment – bacteria – identification – MALDI TOF – mass spectrometry

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.2478/s11696-014-0612-0


Chemical Papers 68 (11) 1435–1442 (2014)

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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