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Proteomic-based biotyping reveals hidden diversity within a microalgae culture collection: An example using Dunaliella

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kaveh Emami, Dr Ethan Hack, Chelsea Brain, Professor Ehsan Mesbahi, Dr Gary Caldwell



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Accurate and defendable taxonomic identification of microalgae strains is vital for culture collections, industry and academia; particularly when addressing issues of intellectual property. We demonstrate the remarkable effectiveness of Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) biotyping to deliver rapid and accurate strain separation, even in situations where standard molecular tools prove ineffective. Highly distinctive MALDI spectra were obtained for thirty two biotechnologically interesting Dunaliella strains plus strains of Arthrospira, Chlorella, Isochrysis, Tetraselmis and a range of culturable co-occurring bacteria. Spectra were directly compared with genomic DNA sequences (internal transcribed spacer, ITS). Within individual Dunaliella isolates MALDI discriminated between strains with identical ITS sequences, thereby emphasising and enhancing knowledge of the diversity within microalgae culture collections. Further, MALDI spectra did not vary with culture age or growth stage during the course of the experiment; therefore MALDI presents stable and accurate strain-specific signature spectra. Bacterial contamination did not affect MALDIā€™s discriminating power. Biotyping by MALDI-TOF-MS will prove effective in situations wherein precise strain identification is vital, for example in cases involving intellectual property disputes and in monitoring and safeguarding biosecurity. MALDI should be accepted as a biotyping tool to complement and enhance standard molecular taxonomy for microalgae.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Emami K, Hack E, Nelson A, Brain CM, Lyne FM, Mesbahi E, Day JG, Caldwell GS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2015

Volume: 5

Online publication date: 12/05/2015

Acceptance date: 24/03/2015

Date deposited: 13/05/2015

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/srep10036

PubMed id: 25963242


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle University
North Sea Region Programme under the ERDF of the European Union
EP/G037620/1Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Biopharmaceutical Bioprocessing Technology Centre
EP/G037620/1Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Biopharmaceutical Bioprocessing Technology Centre
EP/G037620/1Alcyomics Ltd
EP/G037620/1BOC Group Limited