Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 13, pp 5323–5337 | Cite as

MALDI-TOF MS fingerprinting for identification and differentiation of species within the Fusarium fujikuroi species complex

  • Évelin F. Wigmann
  • Jürgen Behr
  • Rudi F. Vogel
  • Ludwig NiessenEmail author
Genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics


Members of the Fusarium fujikuroi species complex (FFSC) are commonly involved in devastating diseases of many economically important plants. They invade developing seeds and other plant tissues in the field causing significant annual losses. In addition, fungal spoilage can also affect human and animal health because some species in this group, especially F. proliferatum and F. verticillioides, are mycotoxin producers occurring in food/feed worldwide. Since morphology-based species identification is of limited value in the FFSC, the development of new methods is fundamental for accurate identification of the molds to species level. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) analysis of subproteomes has been applied as a promising tool for the discrimination of closely related species in many microorganisms. In the present study, MALDI-TOF MS was applied to distinguish closely related species in the FFSC and to validate the effectiveness of a standardized protocol by identifying field isolates that fulfilled the morphological characteristics of FFSC species. Forty-nine of the currently described 61 species were identified by DNA sequencing analysis and their mass spectra were included as reference in a supplementary MALDI-TOF MS database. The discriminative potential of the database was evaluated with more than 80 non-reference FFSC isolates and resulted in 94.61% of correct identifications at the species level. We demonstrate that MALDI-TOF MS is a suitable and accurate technology for the identification and differentiation of species within the FFSC as well as an innovative, time-efficient alternative to multilocus sequencing technology (MLST).


Mass spectrometry Fusarium spp. Spectral analysis DNA sequencing TEF1 gene 



This project was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, grant number 201391/2015-5. Fungal strains were provided to the study by Prof. Walter F.O. Marasas, Dr. Emma Steenkamp and Dr. Gerda Fourie (University of Pretoria, South Africa), Dr. Helgard I. Nirenberg (Julius-Kühn-Institut, Berlin, Germany), Prof. Dr. Siegfried Scherer (Technical University of Munich, Germany), Dr. Antonio Logrieco and Dr. Giancarlo Perrone (Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Bari, Italy), Dr. Rolf Geisen (Max-Rubner-Institut, Karlsruhe, Germany), Prof. Dr. Ludwig Pfenning (Universidade Federal de Lavras, Brazil), Dr. Melvin Bolton (United States Department of Agriculture, Fargo, USA), Dr. Mathew Laurence (Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, Australia), Dr. Adriana Jacobs-Venter (Agricultural Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa), and ARS Culture Collection (NRRL, United States Department of Agriculture, Peoria, USA). We are grateful to Dr. Maik Hilgarth for his help and advice in bioinformatics.

Funding information

This study was partially funded by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, grant number 201391/2015-5.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2019_9794_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (834 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 833 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Évelin F. Wigmann
    • 1
  • Jürgen Behr
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rudi F. Vogel
    • 1
  • Ludwig Niessen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Technische MikrobiologieTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institut für Lebensmittel-SystembiologieTechnischen Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

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