Strains from the Burkholderia cepacia Complex: Relationship to Opportunistic Pathogens

Peter Vandamme, Eshwar Mahenthiralingam


Burkholderia cepacia-like organisms attract much interest from the agricultural industry as natural promoters of plant growth and biological control agents, and for bioremediation. Some of these organisms, however, cause life-threatening infections, particularly in cystic fibrosis patients for whom this multi-resistant bacterium is a major pathogen. The biodiversity of this group of bacteria is severely underestimated, and current identification procedures are inadequate. Presumed B. cepacia isolates belong to at least nine distinct genomic species (genomovars), referred to collectively as the B. cepacia complex. All these B. cepacia complex genomovars have been isolated from clinical and environmental sources. There are no phenotypic, genomic, or taxonomic grounds to differentiate environmental and clinical strains of the B. cepacia complex or to use the source of isolation to assess the safety of biopesticides containing members of the B. cepacia complex.


burkholderia cepacia complex; cystic fibrosis; epidemiology; genomovar; strain typing

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