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Serial passage is a problem among many bacterial species, especially those where strains have been stored (banked) for several decades. Prior to banking with an organization such as ATCC, many bacterial strains were passaged for many years, so the characteristics of each strain may be extremely different. This is in addition to any differences in the original host environment. For Burkholderia pseudomallei, the number of serial passages should be carefully defined for each experiment because it undergoes adaptation during the course of serial passages. In the present study, we found that passaged B. pseudomallei fresh clinical isolates and reference strain in Luria-Bertani broth exhibited increased plaque formation, invasion, intracellular replication, Galleria mellonella killing abilities, and cytokine production of host cells. These bacteria also modulated proteomic profiles during in vitro passage. We presume that the modulation of protein expression during in vitro passage caused changes in virulence and immunogenicity phenotypes. Therefore, we emphasize the need for caution regarding the use of data from passaged B. pseudomallei. These findings of phenotypic adaptation during in vitro serial passage can help researchers working on B. pseudomallei and on other species to better understand disparate findings among strains that have been reported for many years.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Cell Line, Tumor, Hela Cells, Animals, Humans, Moths, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Proteome, Cytokines, Serial Passage, Gene Expression Profiling, Virulence