Thorax 59:952-954 doi:10.1136/thx.2003.019810
  • Cystic fibrosis

Recovery of Burkholderia cenocepacia strain PHDC from cystic fibrosis patients in Europe

  1. T Coenye1,
  2. T Spilker2,
  3. A Van Schoor1,
  4. J J LiPuma2,
  5. P Vandamme1
  1. 1Laboratory of Microbiology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr T Coenye
    Laboratory of Microbiology, Ghent University, K L Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium;
  • Received 4 December 2003
  • Accepted 26 June 2004


Background:Burkholderia cenocepacia can cause life threatening respiratory tract infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and has a significant impact on survival. There is extensive evidence for patient to patient spread and nosocomial transmission of this organism, and several widespread B cenocepacia strains have been described including the transatlantic ET12 clone. A study was performed to compare B cenocepacia isolates recovered from CF patients receiving care in several European countries and strains isolated from other clinical samples and the environment, with reference isolates from the epidemic B cenocepacia strain PHDC which has so far only been recovered from CF patients and soil in the USA.

Methods: A large collection of B cenocepacia isolates, including a large number recovered from CF patients receiving care in several European countries, Canada and the USA, were genotyped by means of randomly amplified polymorphic DNA typing (RAPD) and rep-PCR using the BOX-A1R primer (BOX-PCR).

Results: Nineteen Burkholderia cenocepacia isolates cultured from clinical samples in Europe (18 recently recovered from CF patients in France and Italy and one recovered in 1964 from urine in the UK) showed RAPD fingerprinting patterns that were similar to patterns obtained from isolates of B cenocepacia strain PHDC. Subsequent analysis of these isolates using BOX-PCR confirmed that the European isolates and strain PHDC represent the same clone.

Conclusion: Strain PHDC represents a second transatlantic B cenocepacia clone capable of colonising patients with CF.


  • TC and PV are indebted to the Fund for Scientific Research - Flanders (Belgium) for a position as postdoctoral fellow and research grants, respectively. TC also acknowledges the support from the Belgian Federal Government (Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs). JJL is supported by a grant from the CF Foundation (US).