Rapid and accurate identification of Streptococcus equi subspecies by MALDI-TOF MS

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Streptococcus equi includes very important animal and human pathogens. S. equi subsp. equi (SEE) is a highly pathogenic equine specific subspecies, while S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus (SEZ) and S. equi subsp. ruminatorum are opportunistic pathogens of various animal species and humans. Due to great phenotypic and sequence similarity between three subspecies their discrimination remains difficult. In this study, we aimed to design and validate a novel, Superspectra based, MALDI-TOF MS approach for reliable, rapid and cost-effective identification of SEE and SEZ, the most frequent S. equi subspecies in horses. Superspectra created in this study enabled correct identification of 86 strains belonging to different subspecies of S. equi, isolated from various hosts, infection sites and years. In general, higher average identification accuracy was achieved for SEE (99.0±3.0%) than for SEZ (93.3±7.5%). This result may be attributed to the highly clonal population structure of SEE, as opposed to the diversity of SEZ seen in horses. Importantly strains with atypical colony appearance both within SEE and SEZ did not affect correct identification of the strains by MALDI-TOF MS. Atypical colony variants are often associated with a higher persistence or virulence of S. equi, thus their correct identification using the current method strengthens its potential use in routine clinical diagnostics. In conclusion, reliable identification of S. equi subspecies was achieved by combining a MALDI-TOF MS method with spectra analyses using the SARAMIS database. Additionally, first results on subtyping of SEZ indicated that a more refined discrimination, for example for epidemiological surveys, may be possible
Original languageEnglish
JournalSystematic and Applied Microbiology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)315-322
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2015

ID: 137161943