The rapid chemical analysis of individual cells is an analytical capability that will profoundly impact many fields including bioaerosol detection for biodefense and cellular diagnostics for clinical medicine. This article describes a mass spectrometry-based analytical technique for the real-time and reagentless characterization of individual airborne cells without sample preparation. We characterize the mass spectral signature of individual Bacillus spores and demonstrate the ability to distinguish two Bacillus spore species, B. thuringiensis and B. atrophaeus, from one another very accurately and from the other biological and nonbiological background materials tested with no false positives at a sensitivity of 92%. This example demonstrates that the chemical differences between these two Bacillus spore species are consistently and easily detected within single cells in seconds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry