Strains of fusobacteria (143) were examined by pyrolysis mass spectrometry (Py-MS) with a Horizon Instruments PYMS 200X. and were discriminated. Strains of fusobacteria isolated from tropical ulcers, although similar to in conventional tests, were discriminated from each of these species in Py-MS. Identification of 416 spectra to species level agreed with conventional bacteriological methods in 91·8% of cases, was equivocal in 3·4% and disagreed in 4·8%. Classification based on pyrolysis data resolved groups largely corresponding to the recognised species. However, strains were divided between two distinct groups. The tropical ulcer strains were resolved as a distinct homogeneous group. Py-MS is a rapid, inexpensive and convenient procedure for characterisation of bacteria, with the capacity for a high throughput of samples, although the initial cost of the apparatus is high.


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