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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2001;39:225-58.

Diversity of the Burkholderia cepacia complex and implications for risk assessment of biological control strains.

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Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Department of Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-7306, USA.


The Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) consists of several species of closely related and extremely versatile gram-negative bacteria found naturally in soil, water, and the rhizosphere of plants. Strains of Bcc have been used in biological control of plant diseases and bioremediation, while some strains are plant pathogens or opportunistic pathogens of humans with cystic fibrosis. The ecological versatility of these bacteria is likely due to their unusually large genomes, which are often comprised of several (typically two or three) large replicons, as well as their ability to use a large array of compounds as sole carbon sources. The original species B. cepacia has been split into eight genetic species (genomovars), including five named species, but taxonomic distinctions have not enabled biological control strains to be clearly distinguished from human pathogenic strains. This has led to a reassessment of the risk of several strains registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for biological control. We review the biology of Bcc bacteria, especially how our growing knowledge of Bcc ecology and pathogenicity might be used in risk assessment. The capability of this bacterial complex to cause disease in plants and humans, as well as to control plant diseases, affords a rare opportunity to explore traits that may function in all three environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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