Preliminary data on antibacterial activity of Echinacea purpurea-associated bacterial communities against Burkholderia cepacia complex strains, opportunistic pathogens of Cystic Fibrosis patients

Microbiol Res. 2017 Mar;196:34-43. doi: 10.1016/j.micres.2016.12.001. Epub 2016 Dec 15.


Burkholderia cepacia complex bacteria (Bcc) represent a serious threat for immune-compromised patient affected by Cystic Fibrosis (CF) since they are resistant to many substances and to most antibiotics. For this reason, the research of new natural compounds able to inhibit the growth of Bcc strains has raised new interest during the last years. A source of such natural compounds is represented by medicinal plants and, in particular, by bacterial communities associated with these plants able to produce molecules with antimicrobial activity. In this work, a panel of 151 (endophytic) bacteria isolated from three different compartments (rhizospheric soil, roots, and stem/leaves) of the medicinal plant Echinacea purpurea were tested (using the cross-streak method) for their ability to inhibit the growth of 10 Bcc strains. Data obtained revealed that bacteria isolated from the roots of E. purpurea are the most active in the inhibition of Bcc strains, followed by bacteria isolated from the rhizospheric soil, and endophytes from stem/leaf compartment. At the same time, Bcc strains of environmental origin showed a higher resistance toward inhibition than the Bcc strains with clinical (i.e. CF patients) origin. Differences in the inhibition activity of E. purpurea-associated bacteria are mainly linked to the environment -the plant compartment- rather than to their taxonomical position.

Keywords: Antibacterials; Burkholderia cepacia complex; Clinical microbiology; Cystic fibrosis; Echinacea purpurea; Inhibition.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / chemistry*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Burkholderia cepacia complex / drug effects*
  • Burkholderia cepacia complex / physiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Echinacea / microbiology*
  • Endophytes
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Leaves / microbiology
  • Plant Roots / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas / chemistry
  • Pseudomonas / genetics
  • Rhizosphere
  • Sequence Analysis
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Staphylococcus / chemistry
  • Staphylococcus / genetics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial