SunCollect CF-Spotter

Fast and efficient sample preparation for the Bruker Biotyper® and Biomerieux`s VITEK® MS

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Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has become a state-of-the-art method for the identification of microorganisms in clinical diagnostic laboratories.

In addition to the identification of microorganisms, the technique can also be used for species identification of animals and fungi. With MALDI-TOF MS not only the animal species in meat and fish products can be determined, but also in milk and cheese products. As a result, the MALDI-TOF technology is increasingly becoming an important instrument for food monitoring. The best known devices on the market are the Bruker Biotyper® and Biomerieux’s VITEK® MS.

One reason for the success of the MALDI-TOF MS is the speed and robustness of the technology and the very simple sample preparation. This makes the MALDI-TOF analysis for species determination unrivalled compared to other established methods.

In principle, sample preparation could not be simpler: The sample is applied to the MALDI target plate, overlayed with a microliter of MALDI matrix solution and dried. The MALDI target can then be placed directly into the mass spectrometer. The MALDI measurement itself only takes a few seconds to obtain the result.

In some cases, such as the identification of Gram positive bacteria, an additional step of cell disruption may be necessary. To do this, a microliter of 70% formic acid is added to the sample before the matrix solution is added (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Schematic representation of sample preparation for species determination using MALDI-TOF MS


Although sample preparation is relatively simple, pipetting the formic acid and matrix solution can be very laborious and time-consuming at high sample volumes.

The SunCollect CF-Spotter offers an ideal solution for this. It can apply both formic acid and matrix solution contact-free to the MALDI target at a speed that cannot be achieved manually. The spotter accepts MALDI targets for the Bruker Biotyper® as well as for Biomerieux’s VITEK® MS.  In addition, the spotter has an automatic drying function that further accelerates sample preparation. Laboratory personnel are freed from the tedious task of pipetting and the contact-free application of the solutions prevents any carry-over from spot to spot. There are no additional costs for consumables such as pipette tips.

Sample preparation with the CF Spotter is as simple as it is efficient:

  1. The user applies the samples to the MALDI target and places it in the target holder of the instrument.
  2. The desired method (“Matrix Only” or “Formic Acid + Matrix”) is selected in the software window and the user determines whether one or two targets are to be processed. Spots that are not to be spotted can be deactivated.
  3. After the solutions to be used have been connected to the instrument, the user only has to press the start button.


Figure 2: Overview of automated sample preparation with the SunCollect CF Spotter.