The effect of cationic microbicide exposure against Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc); the use of Burkholderia lata strain 383 as a model bacterium




The extensive use of microbicides in a wide range of applications has been questioned with regard to their role in the development of bacterial resistance to antimicrobials. This study aims to measure the phenotypic and genotypic changes in Burkholderia lata strain 383 exposed to chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) and benzalkonium chloride (BZC), two commonly used cationic microbicides.

Methods and Results

The susceptibility of B. lata strain 383 to CHG and BZC and a range of antibiotics was determined using standardized MIC, MBC and antibiotic susceptibility testing protocols before and after short-term exposure to a low microbicide concentration. Measurements were performed on four separate occasions over a 1-year period. Changes in gene expression were investigated using quantitative real-time PCR. Although the susceptibility profile to CHG and BZC was not altered, a change in antibiotic susceptibility profile was observed for ceftazidime, and for imipenem and ciprofloxacin in 2/4 repeats. An outer membrane protein and ABC transporter were found to be significantly upregulated following treatment with BZC and CHG, respectively.


The comparison of MIC and MBC results following microbicide exposure with baseline data offered a prospective protocol to quantify any change in bacterial susceptibility profile. However, the use of a standardized antibiotic susceptibility protocol with B. lata strain 383 showed some inconsistencies in results between repeats.

Significance and Impact of the Study

With ever-increasing interest in the impact of microbicides on emerging antimicrobial resistance in bacteria growing, this study demonstrated that comparing susceptibility profile obtained after exposure to microbicides with baseline susceptibility values could play a role in establishing the potential risk of microbicide resistance and cross-resistance development and also in the development of a protocol that allows the prediction of microbicide resistance.