The environmental occurrence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

APMIS. 2020 Mar;128(3):220-231. doi: 10.1111/apm.13010. Epub 2019 Dec 18.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is generally described as ubiquitous in natural settings, such as soil and water. However, because anecdotal observations and published reports have questioned whether or not this description is true, we undertook a rigorous study using three methods to investigate the occurrence of P. aeruginosa: We investigated environmental samples, analyzed 16S rRNA data, and undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of published data. The environmental sample screening identified P. aeruginosa as significantly associated with hydrocarbon and pesticide-contaminated environments and feces, as compared to uncontaminated environments in which its prevalence was relatively low. The 16S rRNA data analysis showed that P. aeruginosa sequences were present in all habitats but were most abundant in samples from human and animals. Similarly, the meta-analysis revealed that samples obtained from environments with intense human contact had a higher prevalence of P. aeruginosa compared to those with less human contact. Thus, we found a clear tendency of P. aeruginosa to be present in places closely linked with human activity. Although P. aeruginosa may be ubiquitous in nature, it is usually scarce in pristine environments. Thus, we suggest that P. aeruginosa should be described as a bacterium largely found in locations associated with human activity.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Environmental; incidence; occurrence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S