Rapid Identification of the Foodborne Pathogen Trichinella spp. by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry
Human trichinellosis occurs through consumption of raw or inadequately processed meat or meat products containing larvae of the parasitic nematodes of the genus Trichinella. Currently, nine species and three genotypes are recognized, of which T. spiralis, T. britovi and T. pseudospiralis have the highest public health relevance. To date, the differentiation of the larvae to the species and genotype level is based primarily on molecular methods, which can be relatively time consuming and labor intensive. Due to its rapidness and ease of use a matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) reference spectra database using Trichinella strains of all known species and genotypes was created. A formicacid/acetonitrile protein extraction was carried out after pooling 10 larvae of each Trichinella species and genotype. Each sample was spotted 9 times using a-cyano 4-hydoxy cinnamic acid matrix and a MicroFlex LT mass spectrometer was used to acquire 3 spectra (m/z 2000 to 20000 Da) from each spot resulting in 27 spectra/species or genotype. Following the spectra quality assessment, Biotyper software was used to create a main spectra library (MSP) representing nine species and three genotypes of Trichinella. The evaluation of the spectra generated by MALDI-TOF MS revealed a classification which was comparable to the results obtained by molecular methods. Also, each Trichinella species utilized in this study was distinct and distinguishable with a high confidence level. Further, different conservation methods such as freezing and conservation in alcohol and the host species origin of the isolated larvae did not have a significant influence on the generated spectra. Therefore, the described MALDI-TOF MS can successfully be implemented for both genus and species level identification and represents a major step forward in the use of this technique in foodborne parasitology.