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Microb Ecol. 2012 Feb;63(2):249-66. doi: 10.1007/s00248-011-9929-1. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Common features of environmental and potentially beneficial plant-associated Burkholderia.

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Bacteriology Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, Padriciano 99, 34149 Trieste, Italy.


The genus Burkholderia comprises more than 60 species isolated from a wide range of niches. Although they have been shown to be diverse and ubiquitously distributed, most studies have thus far focused on the pathogenic species due to their clinical importance. However, the increasing number of recently described Burkholderia species associated with plants or with the environment has highlighted the division of the genus into two main clusters, as suggested by phylogenetical analyses. The first cluster includes human, animal, and plant pathogens, such as Burkholderia glumae, Burkholderia pseudomallei, and Burkholderia mallei, as well as the 17 defined species of the Burkholderia cepacia complex, while the other, more recently established cluster comprises more than 30 non-pathogenic species, which in most cases have been found to be associated with plants, and thus might be considered to be potentially beneficial. Several species from the latter group share characteristics that are of use when associating with plants, such as a quorum sensing system, the presence of nitrogen fixation and/or nodulation genes, and the ability to degrade aromatic compounds. This review examines the commonalities in this growing subgroup of Burkholderia species and discusses their prospective biotechnological applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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