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Chron Respir Dis. 2005;2(4):209-17.

Taxonomy and pathogenesis of the Burkholderia cepacia complex.

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Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, Cardiff, UK.


Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are susceptible to chronic respiratory infection with a number of bacterial pathogens. The Burkholderia cepacia complex bacteria are problematic CF pathogens because (i) they are very resistant to antibiotics, making respiratory infection difficult to treat and eradicate; (ii) infection with these bacteria is associated with high mortality in CF; (iii) they may spread from one CF patient to another, leading to considerable problems for both patients and carers; and (iv) B. cepacia complex bacteria are difficult to identify and nine new species have now been found to constitute isolates originally identified as 'B. cepacia' based on their phenotypic properties. Here we review the changes that have occurred in the taxonomy of the B. cepacia complex and the pathogenic factors these bacteria possess. While the taxonomy of the B. cepacia complex has advanced considerably with the development of accurate methods for their identification, the pathogenic mechanisms employed by these CF pathogens are only just beginning to be explored at the molecular level. Several virulence factors have been defined for B. cenocepacia (the dominant CF pathogen within the complex); however, knowledge of the disease mechanisms employed by other B. cepacia complex species is limited. The recent determination of the complete genome sequences for several of the B. cepacia complex species should greatly enhance our ability to study these problematic CF pathogens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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