• Burkholderia mallei ;
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei ;
  • differentiation;
  • identification;
  • thermochemolysis



To develop a simple gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) method for the detection and differentiation of Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei from each other, Burkholderia thailandensis and several members of the Burkholderia cepacia complex.

Methods and Results

Biomarkers were generated by one-step thermochemolysis (TCM) and analysed using a GC-MS system. Fragments of poly-3-hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate [poly(3HBA-co-3HVA)] produced by TCM were useful biomarkers. Several cellular fatty acid methyl esters were important in differentiating the various Burkholderia species. A statistical discrimination algorithm was constructed using a combination of biomarkers. The identities of four B. pseudomallei strains, four B. mallei strains and one strain of each near neighbour were confirmed in a statistically designed test using the algorithm. The detection limit for this method was found to be approximately 4000 cells.


The method is fast, accurate and easy to use. The algorithm is robust against different growth conditions (medium and temperature).

Significance and Impact of the Study

This assay may prove beneficial in a clinical diagnostic setting, where the rapid identification of B. pseudomallei is essential to effective treatment. This method could also be easily employed after a biological attack to confirm the presence of either B. pseudomallei or B. mallei.