THE CONTRIBUTION OF SOIL PHYSICOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES TO THE PRESENCE AND GENETIC DIVERSITY OF BURKHOLDERIA PSEUDOMALLEI.
Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp), the causative agent of melioidosis, is unevenly distributed in the complex soil environment. Physicochemical factors in the soil have been reported to affect microbial communities in the soil. The effect of physicochemical factors on the number and diversity of organisms in the soil has not been reported. Twenty-five each B. pseudomallei-positive and -negative soil samples were collected from a melioidosis-endemic area. The amount of Bp in each soil sample was measured by culture and quantitative PCR (qPCR). The following physicochemical properties from each soil sample were measured: pH, total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio), exchangeable calcium (EC) and extractable iron (EI). All the physico- chemical properties measured were significantly different between the Bp-positive and -negative soil samples. The Bp-positive soil samples had lower C:N ratios and lower EC and a higher EI (p < 0.05) than the Bp-negative samples. The average pH was lower (3.7-5.0) in the Bp-negative samples. Among the Bp-positive soil samples, the EC was negatively correlated with the PCR copy number. The amount of bacteria detected with the qPCR method was higher than with the culture method, suggesting the presence of unculturable forms of bacteria that might re-grow when the environmental conditions was suitable. A total of 117 Bp isolates obtained from the soil samples were classified into 25 groups using BOX-PCR. The genetic diversity of Bp, did not correlate with the physicochemical factors investigated. A suitable pH range and C:N ratio may be important for the presence of Bp. The EI supports the needs and EC probably alters the growth of Bp. The genetic diversity of the bacteria was not influenced by the soil factors investigated in this study. This information shows the environment conducive to the growth of Bp. This gives us information about how to potentially control or decrease Bp in the soil in the future.