The Burkholderia genus is a highly diverse group of species that are distributed throughout
a wide range of environments and habitats. Among this group, which is remarkable for its adaptability
to a wider range of environmental conditions including disinfectants and organic solvents, are a subgroup
that represents some of the most difficult to treat infections. This subgroup includes Burkholderia
pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis; B. mallei, the causative agent of glanders
and B. cepacia complex (Bcc) which causes opportunistic infections in people with cystic fibrosis and
immunocompromised patients. The latter pathogen is itself a group of 18 distinct, but, closely related
species. The adaptability of this group allows the expression of a rich selection of molecular virulence determinants to facilitate
its survival in the diverse habitats that it colonises. This review will describe a selection of these associated with
human infection; comparing them across the three pathogens and highlighting their potential roles as vaccine candidates.
Better integration of the knowledge on the pathogenesis and molecular determinants of virulence for these Burkholderia
spp may allow the development of more efficacious vaccines.
Keywords: Burkholderia cepacia complex, Burkholderia mallei, Burkholderia pseudomallei, cystic fibrosis, glanders,
melioidosis, vaccine, virulence.
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