Bacteria cells and/or spores are collected and concentrated to form a specimen that is lysed using an ionized fluid to facilitate identification of the bacterial cells or spores by tests performed on the DNA and RNA contained therein. An impact collector is preferably used for separating the spores and cells from an air sample that is drawn through an input port of a portable housing. The resulting specimen is then exposed to an ionizing discharge that ruptures the surface membrane of the bacterial cells or spores. The ionizing discharge can be produced by a Tesla coil or other potential transformer that is electrically energized to produce an ionization potential, which is applied to an electrode, or to produce a corona glow discharge spread over a relatively larger surface of a plate-type electrode. Alternatively, air or another gaseous fluid in proximity to the electrode may be ionized by the ionizing potential or discharge from the electrode, forming an ionized fluid that is applied to the specimen. The surface membranes of the cells and/or spores are ruptured or cleaved by the ionizing discharge, exposing the nuclear DNA and RNA material contained therein. The lysed bacterial spores and/or cells are then processed by a cell RNA/DNA identifier, which uses a time of flight mass spectrometer or other assaying device to determine the types of spores and/or cells comprising the specimen. One preferred embodiment of the apparatus is housed in a portable housing and preferably includes a battery powered power supply, so that the apparatus is readily carried about in an adverse environment such as a battlefield to facilitate identification of bacteriological warfare agents.