Scientists sequenced and phenotyped multiple Burkholderia cenocepacia isolates from 16 CF patients and found extensive variation among isolates during chronic lung infection as well as changes in clinically relevant bacterial phenotypes.

The researchers collected 215 isolates from 16 CF patients from the Canadian Burkholderia cepacia Complex Research and Referral Repository (CBCCRRR), with samples spanning a period of 2 to 20 years for each patient. Most patients demonstrated significantly decreased lung function during this time.

Using whole genome sequencing, the genetic content of all isolates was profiled and genome assemblies were generated for 11 isolates.

“By looking at changes in the genome over time, we were able to see patterns – common themes that help us better understand how this particular species evolves in its environment and how CF patients become chronically infected,” said study co-corresponding author Joshua Chang Mell, from Drexel University College of Medicine.