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Journal Articles ISME Journal Year : 2010

Phase variation has a role in Burkholderia ambifaria niche adaptation.


Members of the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc), such as B. ambifaria, are effective biocontrol strains, for instance, as plant growth-promoting bacteria; however, Bcc isolates can also cause severe respiratory infections in people suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). No distinction is known between isolates from environmental and human origins, suggesting that the natural environment is a potential source of infectious Bcc species. While investigating the presence and role of phase variation in B. ambifaria HSJ1, an isolate recovered from a CF patient, we identified stable variants that arose spontaneously irrespective of the culture conditions. Phenotypic and proteomic approaches revealed that the transition from wild-type to variant types affects the expression of several putative virulence factors. By using four different infection models (Drosophila melanogaster, Galleria mellonella, macrophages and Dictyostelium discoideum), we showed that the wild-type was more virulent than the variant. It may be noted that the variant showed reduced replication in a human monocyte cell line when compared with the wild-type. On the other hand, the variant of isolate HSJ1 was more competitive in colonizing plant roots than the wild-type. Furthermore, we observed that only clinical B. ambifaria isolates generated phase variants, and that these variants showed the same phenotypes as observed with the HSJ1 variant. Finally, we determined that environmental B. ambifaria isolates showed traits that were characteristic of variants derived from clinical isolates. Our study therefore suggest that B. ambifaria uses phase variation to adapt to drastically different environments: the lung of patients with CF or the rhizosphere.

Dates and versions

pasteur-00819527 , version 1 (01-05-2013)



Ludovic Vial, Marie-Christine Groleau, Martin G Lamarche, Geneviève Filion, Josée Castonguay-Vanier, et al.. Phase variation has a role in Burkholderia ambifaria niche adaptation.. ISME Journal, 2010, 4 (1), pp.49-60. ⟨10.1038/ismej.2009.95⟩. ⟨pasteur-00819527⟩


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