Microbial Ecology

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 249–266 | Cite as

Common Features of Environmental and Potentially Beneficial Plant-Associated Burkholderia

  • Zulma Rocío Suárez-Moreno
  • Jesús Caballero-Mellado
  • Bruna G. Coutinho
  • Lucia Mendonça-Previato
  • Euan K. James
  • Vittorio VenturiEmail author


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.


Sugarcane Rhizobium Quorum Sense Burkholderia Quorum Sense System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



ZRSM was financially supported by an ICGEB fellowship. BGC PhD programme is funded by CAPES (Brazil). We thank Paulina Estrada de Los Santos for reading the manuscript and useful suggestions. During the preparation of this review, our dear friend and colleague Jesús Caballero-Mellado unexpectedly passed away; his warm friendship, availability, and important contributions in this research field are very sadly missed. EKJ thanks NERC (UK) for funds, and numerous colleagues and collaborators for participating in the NERC-funded Beta-rhizobia project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zulma Rocío Suárez-Moreno
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jesús Caballero-Mellado
    • 3
  • Bruna G. Coutinho
    • 1
    • 6
  • Lucia Mendonça-Previato
    • 4
  • Euan K. James
    • 5
  • Vittorio Venturi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Bacteriology GroupInternational Centre for Genetic Engineering & BiotechnologyTriesteItaly
  2. 2.University of Medicine and Dentistry of New JerseyNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Centro de Ciencias GenómicasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCuernavacaMéxico
  4. 4.Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas Filho, Centro de Ciências da SaúdeUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  5. 5.EPI DivisionThe James Hutton InstituteDundeeUK
  6. 6.The Capes FoundationMinistry of Education of BrazilBrasiliaBrazil

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