Agricultural use of Burkholderia (Pseudomonas) cepacia: a threat to human health?

Emerg Infect Dis. Apr-Jun 1998;4(2):221-7. doi: 10.3201/eid0402.980209.

Abstract

In the past 2 decades, Burkholderia cepacia has emerged as a human pathogen causing numerous outbreaks, particularly among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. One highly transmissible strain has spread across North America and Britain, and another between hospitalized CF and non-CF patients. Meanwhile, the organism has been developed as a biopesticide for protecting crops against fungal diseases and has potential as a bioremediation agent for breaking down recalcitrant herbicides and pesticides. However, B. cepacia is inherently resistant to multiple antibiotics; selection of strains "safe" for environmental application is not at present possible phenotypically or genotypically; molecular epidemiology and phylogenetic studies demonstrate that highly transmissible strains emerge randomly; and the organism has a capacity for rapid mutation and adaptation (facilitated by numerous insertion sequences), and a large, complex genome divided into separate chromosomes. Therefore, the widespread agricultural use of B. cepacia should be approached with caution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Burkholderia Infections / epidemiology
  • Burkholderia Infections / microbiology*
  • Burkholderia Infections / prevention & control
  • Burkholderia cepacia / genetics
  • Burkholderia cepacia / pathogenicity*
  • Burkholderia cepacia / physiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Mutation
  • Pest Control, Biological*