Burkholderia is a genus of Proteobacteria whose pathogenic members include the Burkholderia cepacia complex which attacks humans and 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, obligately aerobic, rod-shaped bacteria that are motile by means of single or multiple polar flagella, with the exception of Burkholderia mallei which is nonmotile. Members belonging to the genus do not produce sheaths or prosthecae and are able to utilize poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) for growth. The genus includes both animal 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 being catalase positive (affecting patients with chronic granulomatous disease) and its ability to degrade chlororganic pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The conserved RNA structure Anti-hemB RNA motif is found in all known bacteria in this genus.
Due to their antibiotic resistance and the high mortality rate from their associated diseases, B. mallei and B. pseudomallei are considered to be potential biological warfare agents, targeting livestock and humans.