Burkholderia is a genus of proteobacteria whose pathogenic members include Burkholderia mallei, responsible for glanders, a disease that occurs mostly in horses and related animals; Burkholderia pseudomallei, causative agent of melioidosis; and Burkholderia cepacia, an important pathogen of pulmonary infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF).

The Burkholderia (previously part of Pseudomonas) genus name refers to a group of virtually ubiquitous gram-negative, motile, obligately aerobic rod-shaped bacteria including both animal/human (see above) and plant pathogens as well as some environmentally important species. In particular, B. xenovorans (previously named Pseudomonas cepacia then B. cepacia and B. fungorum) is renowned for their ability to degrade chlororganic pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The use of Burkholderia species for agricultural purposes (such as biodegradation, biocontrol and as plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria) is subject to discussions because of possible pathogenic effects in immuno-compromised people (especially CF-sufferers), e.g., hospital acquired infections. However it has been shown that the animal pathogenic and the plant/soil species belong to different groups, and it was proposed to separate them into two different genera, avoiding miss interpretations. [1]

Due to their antibiotic resistance and the high mortality rate from their associated diseases Burkholderia mallei and Burkholderia pseudomallei are considered to be potential biological warfare agents, targeting livestock and humans.

The genus was named after Walter H. Burkholder, plant pathologist at Cornell University.


List of species according to the online List of prokaryotic names with standing in nomenclature (date accessed 20 March 2014).[2]

List of Candidatus species (proposed but unculturable).


  1. ^ Estrada-De Los Santos, P.; Vinuesa, P.; Martínez-Aguilar, L.; Hirsch, A. M.; Caballero-Mellado, J. S. (2013). "Phylogenetic Analysis of Burkholderia Species by Multilocus Sequence Analysis". Current Microbiology 67 (1): 51–60. doi:10.1007/s00284-013-0330-9. PMID 23404651.  edit
  2. ^ "List of prokaryotic names with standing in nomenclature". Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
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