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Int J Med Microbiol. 2004 Sep;294(2-3):123-31.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia in cystic fibrosis: genome evolution, interactions and adaptation.

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Department of Microbiology, Institute of Plant Biology, University Zürich, CH-8008 Zürich, Switzerland.


The Gram-negative bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia are opportunistic human pathogens that are responsible for severe nosocomial infections in immunocompromised patients and are the major pathogens in cystic fibrosis (CF). The two bacteria not only inhabit the same environmental niches but can also form mixed biofilms in the lungs of CF patients. Hence, it appears very likely that the two organisms are capable of interacting with each other. Work of the past few years has shown that both bacteria utilize quorum-sensing systems, which rely on N-acyl-homoserine lactone signal molecules, to control the expression of virulence factors and biofilm development. Most importantly, evidence has been presented that these signal molecules also serve as a universal language for communication between the two organisms. Moreover, analyses of the diversity in P. aeruginosa revealed the presence of genome islands that contain genes that are highly homologous to genes identified in strains of Burkholderia sp. This finding suggests that there is a frequent exchange of genetic material between the two organisms.

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