Clinical and environmental Burkholderia strains: biofilm production and intracellular survival

Curr Microbiol. 2007 Jun;54(6):440-4. doi: 10.1007/s00284-006-0601-9. Epub 2007 Apr 24.


Bacteria belonging to the Burkholderia species are important pulmonary pathogens in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Their ability to establish chronic and sometimes fatal infections seems linked to the quorum sensing-regulated expression of virulence factors. We examined 23 Burkholderia isolates, 19 obtained from CF patients and 4 from the environment, to evaluate their ability to form biofilm and to penetrate and replicate inside J774 macrophagic cells. Our results indicate that biofilm formation and intracellular survival are behavioral traits frequently expressed by Burkholderia strains isolated from CF patients. Successive isolates obtained from each of four chronically infected patients yielded bacteria consistently belonging to the same strain but showing increasing ability to replicate intracellularly and to produce biofilm, possibly due to in vivo bacterial microevolution driven by the selective lung environmental conditions. Protection against antimicrobials granted to burkholderiae by the expression of these two virulence factors might account for the frequent failures of antibiotic treatment in CF patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Burkholderia / growth & development*
  • Burkholderia / isolation & purification
  • Burkholderia / pathogenicity
  • Burkholderia Infections / microbiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology