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Identification of Non-tuberculous Mycobacterium species (NTM)

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Requisition Forms

Reference Details


Identification of Non-tuberculous Mycobacterium spp to the species level as per ‘LPSN (List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature, author:  J.P. Euzeby).’  The testing is conducted using a combination of MALDI-TOF (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization – Time Of Flight) Mass Spectrometry* and/or DNA sequence-based methodologies.

Test Category:
Mycobacterium spp.
Illnesses and Diseases:
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Non-pulmonary disease

Solid or liquid media growth. 

  • For solid media growth, isolated colonies on plated media. 
  • For liquid culture, a minimum volume of 4 mL of actively growing culture. 
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and slowly growing Mycobacterium species must show visible growth and be no more than 4 weeks old. 
  • Rapidly growing Mycobacterium species must show visible growth and be no more than 10 days old.
  • If the culture has inadequate growth, contamination, or mixed Mycobacterium  species, the submitted culture will be rejected and a resubmission will be requested. 
Collection Method:


Specimen Processing, Storage and Shipping:

Ship all cultures at room temperature (DO NOT freeze) for overnight delivery, and prior to Wednesday each week to ensure receipt by Friday.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods:

Shipping of specimens shall be done by a TDG certified individual in accordance with TDG regulations. For additional information regarding classification of specimens for the purposes of shipping, consult either Part 2 Appendix 3 of the TDG Regulations or section 3.6.2 of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations as applicable.


Patient Criteria:


Accompanying Documentation:

Notification of sample submission must be emailed or faxed prior to shipping isolates. Samples should be shipped attention: Melissa Rabb, Head, Reference and Diagnostic Services, NRCM/NML at 204-789-6081/204-789-6038.  A requisition for the NRCM must be completed and signed off by the supervisor/designate of the submitting laboratory and include the source of specimen, patient gender, date of birth, clinical history, submitting laboratory identifier and submitter information.  Please also include isolate characteristics:  microscopy, pigmentation, culture characteristics, growth rate/temperature, and other identification.  Requested testing for urgent submissions should be accompanied by a justification.


Cultures will be rejected if appropriate documentation and justification is incomplete or missing

Methods and Interpretation of Results:

Species identification will be determined primarily through MALDI-TOF. 16S rRNA and/or hsp65 gene fragment sequencing may be used for further differentiation or for confirmation of a submitted identification, as needed.  The identification will be determined by comparison of data to in-house quality controlled databases.  If the isolate is determined to belong to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, it will be automatically referred for Molecular Differentiation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex (MTBC)

Turnaround Time:

Routine testing from culture: 10 calendar days from the date of specimen receipt.

Phone #: (204) 789-2136 or (204) 789-6038
Fax: (204) 789-2036
  1. Turenne CY, Tschetter L, Wolfe J, Kabani A. (2001) Necessity of quality-controlled 16S rRNA gene sequence databases: identifying nontuberculous Mycobacterium species. J Clin Microbiol. 39:3637-48.
  2. Brunello F, Ligozzi M, Cristelli E, Bonora S, Tortoli E, and Fontana R. (2001) Identification of 54 mycobacterial species by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the hsp65 gene. J. Clin. Microbiol. 39:2799-2806.