Abstract Background Burkholderia pseudomallei is the bacterial causative agent of melioidosis, a difficult disease to diagnose clinically with high mortality if not appropriately treated. Definitive diagnosis requires isolation and identification of the organism. With the increased adoption of MALDI-TOF MS for the identification of bacteria, we established a method for rapid identification of B. pseudomallei using the Vitek MS, a system that does not currently have B. pseudomallei in its in-vitro diagnostic database. Results A routine direct spotting method was employed to create spectra and SuperSpectra. An initial B. pseudomallei SuperSpectrum was created at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) from 17 reference isolates (46 spectra). When tested, this initial SMRU SuperSpectrum was able to identify 98.2 % (54/55) of Asian isolates, but just 46.7 % (35/75) of Australian isolates. Using spectra (430) from different reference and clinical isolates, two additional SMRU SuperSpectra were created. Using the combination of all SMRU SuperSpectra with seven existing SuperSpectra from Townsville, Australia 119 (100 %) Asian isolates and 31 (100 %) Australian isolates were correctly identified. In addition, no misidentifications were obtained when using these 11 SuperSpectra when tested with 34 isolates of other bacteria including the closely related species Burkholderia thailandensis and Burkholderia cepacia. Conclusions This study has established a method for identification of B. pseudomallei using Vitek MS, and highlights the impact of geographical differences between strains for identification using this technique.
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