Department of Life Science, Fu Jen Catholic University, Hsin Chuang, Taipei County, Taiwan 24205, Republic of China
Burkholderia cenocepacia (genomovar III of B. cepacia complex), the causal agent of banana finger-tip rot, is a common plant-associated bacterium but also an important opportunistic pathogen of humans. To better understand the nature of B. cenocepacia from banana, the genetic variation among B. cenocepacia isolates from various banana-growing regions in southern Taiwan was examined. Forty-four serial isolates recovered from diseased banana stigmata from three banana-growing regions during the periods ranging from 2002 to 2004 were investigated. All B. cenocepacia isolates picked from quinate-yeast extract tetracycline-polymyxin semiselective medium could cause onion maceration and were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive for bcscV, which is a type III secretion gene present in all members of the B. cepacia complex except B. cepacia (formerly genomovar I). Genetic diversity was assessed using recA PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism, recA nucleotide sequence analysis, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis assays. The assays revealed the genetic variability among the isolates and also allowed us to trace the relationship among isolates. The isolates all were assigned to genomovar III and consisted of two groups, A and B, which corresponded to recA lineage IIIA and IIIB. The group B strains were separated into B1 and B2 subgroups and the B1 strains were further divided into distinct lineages. The B1 strains were the most frequently detected and occurred in all regions tested. There was no significant difference between strains from each subgroup in the virulence on banana fingers of cv. Cavendish. PCR assays were further used to determine whether B. cenocepacia from banana contained the cable pilus subunit gene (cblA), IS1356, and B. cepacia epidemic strain marker (BCESM), which are DNA markers associated with epidemic B. cepacia clinic strains. The results indicated that cblA and IS1356 were absent but the BCESM was found in all isolates. The present study revealed that banana is a natural reservoir of genetically diversified B. cenocepacia strains.