This is an extended version of content that appears in the Emerging Technologies feature in the April issue of CLP.

The potential for MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to produce bacterial identifications that are better, faster, and cost less to produce has been well documented in the scientific literature. Among the many peer-reviewed articles on microbiological applications of MALDI-TOF MS, more than 300 have been completed using the Bruker MALDI Biotyper, first launched in 2007.

Since the MALDI Biotyper first came on the market, more than 1000 microbiology labs worldwide have acquired the system. This robust MS instrument and procedure offers the benefits of results in less than five minutes, throughput of approximately 200 samples per hour, and low cost per test.

In November 2013, Bruker was granted FDA clearance to market its MALDI Biotyper CA system in the United States for the identification of gram-negative bacterial colonies cultured from human specimens.

Further applications of the MALDI Biotyper CA system are being developed, both internally and with collaboration partners. For example, Bruker is working on antibiotic resistance mechanism detection. The use of mass spectrometry for resistance testing was reviewed in a recent paper by Markus Kostrzewa, Katrin Sparbier, and Thomas Maier of Bruker, and Sören Schubert of the Pettenkofer Institute in Munich.1 Noting that culture-based methods are still the gold standard for antibiotic resistance testing, the authors observe that the first steps toward the use of MALDI-TOF MS for rapid detection of antibiotic and antimycotic substances have been “very promising.”

Nevertheless, say the authors, future work will need to address a number of questions. “These regard the correlation of MALDI-TOF results with determined minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) values and breakpoints currently used in resistance testing. Ideally, studies will have to prove the impact of the MALDI-TOF MS results on the appropriate treatment and the clinical course of infection. As soon as these issues are addressed and the MALDI-TOF resistance testing is automated and tailored for easy and parallel testing of multiple antibiotics, this novel method is going to be a serious competitor for classic antibiotic resistance testing.”

For further information, visit the Bruker website at, or meet with Bruker reps at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, booth 201.

1. M Kostrzewa, K Sparbier, T Maier, and S Schubert. “MALDI-TOF MS: An Upcoming Tool for Rapid Detection of Antibiotic Resistance in Microorganisms,” Proteomics Clin. Appl. 2013 (7): 767–778.