Infections with the unusual human pathogens Agrobacterium species and Ochrobactrum anthropi

Clin Infect Dis. 1994 Jun;18(6):914-20. doi: 10.1093/clinids/18.6.914.


Agrobacterium species and Ochrobactrum anthropi are generally considered innocuous in clinical settings, yet during the last decade a number of sporadic cases of human infection due to these organisms have been reported. We studied nine cases of infection (septicemia and peritonitis) caused by Agrobacterium-like microorganisms in eight patients. All patients were immunocompromised and had permanent central venous or peritoneal dialysis catheters in place. Seven patients were women, and eight infections were community acquired. Six isolates were identified as Agrobacterium species and three as O. anthropi. These two groups of strains differed in the production of beta-galactosidase and of acid from lactose, erythritol, salicin, and cellobiose. All strains were strictly aerobic, peritrichous, gram-negative bacilli that produced oxidase, urease, and acid from glucose, fructose, arabinose, xylose, mannitol, inositol, and ethanol. The in vitro adherence of isotope-labeled bacteria to silicone tubes was similar to that of staphylococci. We conclude that Agrobacterium species and O. anthropi can be pathogenic in immunocompromised patients with permanent catheters.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • Peritoneal Dialysis
  • Peritonitis / microbiology*
  • Rhizobium / metabolism
  • Rhizobium / pathogenicity*
  • Sepsis / microbiology*