The template or target plate is a critical component for use when identifying a microorganism on the MALDI-TOF MS.
The two types of target plates are reusable and disposable.
Reusable target plates may save cost over time, but require routine cleaning with 70% ethanol, MS-grade water, and 80% trifluoroacetic acid. Inadequate cleaning may leave debris or residual protein on a reusable template, limiting the ability to identify an organism. For safety, the cleaning process should be performed under a chemical fume hood while wearing protective gloves. There are several soak steps involved in cleaning and the entire process can take up to 30 minutes. Cleaning does not have to be done after each run, as long as unused wells are available on the target plate.
Disposable targets offer a convenient simple method for use in the instruments, but may be more expensive and less "green."