Genotypic and phenotypic relatedness of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates among the major cystic fibrosis patient cohort in Italy

Cristina Cigana, Paola Melotti, Rossella Baldan, Elisa Pedretti, Emily Pintani, Patrizia Iansa, Ida De Fino, Flavio Favari, Gabriella Bergamini, Gloria Tridello, Daniela M. Cirillo, Baroukh M. Assael, Alessandra Bragonzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the predominant pathogen associated with the decline of pulmonary function in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Both environment-to-host acquisition and patient-to-patient transmission have been described for P. aeruginosa infection. Epidemic clones and bacterial phenotypic adaptation to the CF lung have been recognised as independent risk factors for disease progression. So far, there is no established link between genotypic prevalence and phenotypic traits. Here, we look at the major CF patient cohort in Italy to identify shared P. aeruginosa clones and associated common phenotypic traits. Results: A comprehensive analysis of P. aeruginosa genotypes to determine the presence of high-risk shared clones and their association to specific phenotypic traits has been performed in a major Italian CF centre. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of P. aeruginosa isolates from 338 CF subjects identified 43 profiles shared by two or more patients and 214 profiles exclusive to individual patients. There was no evidence of a P. aeruginosa outbreak, but four most prevalent pulsotypes were detected. Common phenotypic traits were recorded intra-pulsotypes, but we detected heterogeneity inter-pulsotypes. Two of the four major pulsotypes included P. aeruginosa isolates with hallmarks of adaptation to the CF airways, including loss of motility, low production of siderophore, pyocyanin and proteases, and antibiotic resistance. One of these pulsotypes grouped a high percentage of hypermutable isolates. No clear correlation between epidemiological and clinical data was found. Conclusions: We conclude that CF patients of this cohort shared common pulsotypes, but their phenotypic heterogeneity indicates an absence of specific traits associated to P. aeruginosa genotypic prevalence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 11 2016


  • Bacterial adaptation
  • Bacterial genotype
  • Bacterial phenotype
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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