Two rapid spectroscopic approaches for whole-organism fingerprinting of pyrolysis-mass spectrometry (PyMS) and fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) were used to analyze a group of 29 clinical and reference Candida isolates. These strains had been identified by conventional means as belonging to one of the three species Candida albicans, C. dubliniensis (previously reported as atypical C. albicans), and C. stellatoidea (which is also closely related to C. albicans). To observe the relationships of the 29 isolates as judged by PyMS and FT-IR, the spectral data were clustered by discriminant analysis. On visual inspection of the cluster analyses from both methods, three distinct clusters, which were discrete for each of the Candida species, could be seen. Moreover, these phenetic classifications were found to be very similar to those obtained by genotypic studies which examined the HinfI restriction enzyme digestion patterns of genomic DNA and by use of the 27A C. albicans-specific probe. Both spectroscopic techniques are rapid (typically, 2 min for PyMS and 10 s for FT-IR) and were shown to be capable of successfully discriminating between closely related isolates of C. albicans, C. dubliniensis, and C. stellatoidea. We believe that these whole-organism fingerprinting methods could provide opportunities for automation in clinical microbial laboratories, improving turnaround times and the use of resources.
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