The biochemical characteristics of 213 isolates of from patients with melioidosis and 140 isolates from the soil in central and northeastern Thailand were compared. Whereas the biochemical profiles of all the clinical isolates were similar, all soil isolates from the central area and 25% of isolates from northeastern Thailand comprised a different phenotype. This was characterised by the ability to assimilate L-arabinose (100%), adonitol (100%), 5-keto-gluconate (90%) and D-xylose (84%), but failure to assimilate dulcitol (0%), erythritol (0%) and trehalose (10%). Compared with clinical isolates, these organisms had similar antibiotic susceptibility profiles and were also recognised by a specific polyclonal antibody against . As melioidosis is rare in central Thailand, but common in the northeast, this raises the possibility that this biochemical phenotype may be less virulent, or may even represent a different species.


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