Antibiotic resistance in Burkholderia species

Katherine A. Rhodes, Herbert P. Schweizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


The genus Burkholderia comprises metabolically diverse and adaptable Gram-negative bacteria, which thrive in often adversarial environments. A few members of the genus are prominent opportunistic pathogens. These include Burkholderia mallei and Burkholderia pseudomallei of the B. pseudomallei complex, which cause glanders and melioidosis, respectively. Burkholderia cenocepacia, Burkholderia multivorans, and Burkholderia vietnamiensis belong to the Burkholderia cepacia complex and affect mostly cystic fibrosis patients. Infections caused by these bacteria are difficult to treat because of significant antibiotic resistance. The first line of defense against antimicrobials in Burkholderia species is the outer membrane penetration barrier. Most Burkholderia contain a modified lipopolysaccharide that causes intrinsic polymyxin resistance. Contributing to reduced drug penetration are restrictive porin proteins. Efflux pumps of the resistance nodulation cell division family are major players in Burkholderia multidrug resistance. Third and fourth generation β-lactam antibiotics are seminal for treatment of Burkholderia infections, but therapeutic efficacy is compromised by expression of several β-lactamases and ceftazidime target mutations. Altered DNA gyrase and dihydrofolate reductase targets cause fluoroquinolone and trimethoprim resistance, respectively. Although antibiotic resistance hampers therapy of Burkholderia infections, the characterization of resistance mechanisms lags behind other non-enteric Gram-negative pathogens, especially ESKAPE bacteria such as Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-90
Number of pages9
JournalDrug Resistance Updates
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotics resistance
  • Burkholderia
  • Burkholderia cepacia complex
  • Glanders
  • Melioidosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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