Device-independent, real-time identification of bacterial pathogens with a metal oxide-based olfactory sensor
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A novel olfactory method for bacterial species identification using an electronic nose device called the MonoNose was developed. Differential speciation of micro-organisms present in primary cultures of clinical samples could be performed by real-time identification of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced during microbial replication. Kinetic measurements show that the dynamic changes in headspace gas composition are orders of magnitude larger than the static differences at the end of fermentation. Eleven different, clinically relevant bacterial species were included in this study. For each of the species, two to eight different strains were used to take intra-species biodiversity into account. A total of 52 different strains were measured in an incubator at 37°C. The results show that the diagnostic specificities varied from 100% for Clostridium difficile to 67% for Enterobacter cloacae with an overall average of 87%. Pathogen identification with a MonoNose can be achieved within 6-8 h of inoculation of the culture broths. The diagnostic specificity can be improved by broth modification to improve the VOC production of the pathogens involved.