More than 20 different species of Mucorales can be responsible for human mucormycosis. Accurate identification to the species level is important. The morphological identification of Mucorales is not reliable, and the currently recommended identification standard is the molecular technique of sequencing the internal transcribed spacer regions. Nevertheless, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry has been shown to be an accurate alternative for the identification of bacteria, yeasts, and even filamentous fungi. Therefore, 38 Mucorales isolates, belonging to 12 different species or varieties, mainly from international collections, including 10 type or neo-type strains previously identified by molecular methods, were used to evaluate the usefulness of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the identification of human pathogenic Mucorales to the species level. One to three reference strains for each species were used to create a database of main spectrum profiles, and the remaining isolates were used as test isolates. A minimum of 10 spectra was used to build the main spectrum profile of each database strain. Interspecies discrimination for all the isolates, including species belonging to the same genus, was possible. Twenty isolates belonging to five species were used to test the database accuracy, and were correctly identified to the species level with a log-score >2. In summary, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry is a reliable and rapid method for the identification of most of the human pathogenic Mucorales to the species level.
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