2022 Volume 27 Issue 2 Pages 81-86
Legionella pneumophila (L. pneumophila) is responsible for most Legionnaire's disease cases diagnosed worldwide. The species includes 16 serogroups, but most Legionnaire's disease cases (85.7% in Europe, 87.0% in Japan) are caused by L. pneumophila serogroup 1. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) can be used to identify the L. pneumophila serogroup. In this study, we compared three sample preparation methods that are compatible with MALDI-TOF MS: the direct colony transfer method (DCTM), on-target extraction method (OTEM), and in-tube extraction method (ITEM). The aim was to improve the low identification rates for L. pneumophila, and establish and validate a simple, rapid and robust MALDI-TOF MS-based method for routine use in microbiological laboratories for assignment of L. pneumophila isolates to serogroups and identification of reliable peak biomarkers. Using ITEM, 100.0% (29/29) of hot spring water samples and clinical isolates were correctly identified at the species level. Augmented reference spectra correctly identified all 29 strains at the species level and 29 isolates at the serogroup level, displaying sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of 100.0% for serogroup assignment. MALDI-TOF MS is a relatively inexpensive method for assignment of L. pneumophila serogroups that can serve as a first-line tool for rapid prospective typing.