Phenotypic Characterization of an International Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Reference Panel: Strains of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Origin Show Less in Vivo Virulence Than non-CF Strains

Microbiology. 2015 Oct;161(10):1961-1977. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000155. Epub 2015 Aug 6.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes chronic lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF) and acute opportunistic infections in people without CF. Forty-two P. aeruginosa strains from a range of clinical and environmental sources were collated into a single reference strain panel to harmonise research on this diverse opportunistic pathogen. To facilitate further harmonized and comparable research on P. aeruginosa, we characterized the panel strains for growth rates, motility, virulence in the Galleria mellonella infection model, pyocyanin and alginate production, mucoid phenotype, LPS pattern, biofilm formation, urease activity, and antimicrobial and phage susceptibilities. Phenotypic diversity across the P. aeruginosa panel was apparent for all phenotypes examined, agreeing with the marked variability seen in this species. However, except for growth rate, the phenotypic diversity among strains from CF versus non-CF sources was comparable. CF strains were less virulent in the G. mellonella model than non-CF strains (P = 0.037). Transmissible CF strains generally lacked O-antigen, produced less pyocyanin and had low virulence in G. mellonella. Furthermore, in the three sets of sequential CF strains, virulence, O-antigen expression and pyocyanin production were higher in the earlier isolate compared to the isolate obtained later in infection. Overall, this full phenotypic characterization of the defined panel of P. aeruginosa strains increases our understanding of the virulence and pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa and may provide a valuable resource for the testing of novel therapies against this problematic pathogen.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Lepidoptera / microbiology
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Locomotion
  • Phenotype*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / classification
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / pathogenicity*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Virulence