Detection and accurate identification of new or emerging bacteria in cystic fibrosis patients

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2010 Jul;16(7):809-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2010.03236.x.


Respiratory infections remain a major threat to cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The detection and correct identification of the bacteria implicated in these infections is critical for the therapeutic management of patients. The traditional methods of culture and phenotypic identification of bacteria lack both sensitivity and specificity because many bacteria can be missed and/or misidentified. Molecular analyses have recently emerged as useful means to resolve these problems, including molecular methods for accurate identification or detection of bacteria and molecular methods for evaluation of microbial diversity. These recent molecular technologies have increased the list of new and/or emerging pathogens and epidemic strains associated with CF patients. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry of intact cells has also emerged recently as a powerful and rapid method for the routine identification of bacteria in clinical microbiology laboratories and will certainly represent the method of choice also for the routine identification of bacteria in the context of CF. Finally, recent data derived from molecular culture-independent analyses indicate the presence of a previously underestimated, complex microbial community in sputa from CF patients. Interestingly, full genome sequencing of some bacteria frequently recovered from CF patients has highlighted the fact that the lungs of CF patients are hotspots for lateral gene transfer and the adaptation of these ecosystems to a specific chronic condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Base Sequence
  • Biodiversity
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Humans
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Microbial Consortia
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Fast Atom Bombardment / methods
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / methods


  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator