Classification and identification of the Burkholderia cepacia complex: Past, present and future

Syst Appl Microbiol. 2011 Apr;34(2):87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.syapm.2010.10.002. Epub 2011 Jan 22.


The Burkholderia cepacia complex is a group of closely related species with conflicting biological properties. Triggered by the devastating effect of pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis patients, the scientific community generated an unusually large amount of taxonomic data for these bacteria during the past 15 years. This review presents the polyphasic, multilocus and genomic methodology used for the classification and identification of these bacteria. The current state-of-the-art demonstrates that present day taxonomists can replace traditional DNA-DNA hybridizations for species level demarcation and 16S rRNA sequence analysis for studying phylogeny by superior whole genome sequence-based parameters within the framework of polyphasic taxonomic studies.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques / history
  • Burkholderia Infections / complications*
  • Burkholderia cepacia complex / classification*
  • Burkholderia cepacia complex / genetics
  • Burkholderia cepacia complex / isolation & purification
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Opportunistic Infections / complications*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rec A Recombinases / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Rec A Recombinases