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NC Department of Health and Human Services
State Laboratory of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Bioterrorism: Agents of Concern

Burkholderia pseudomallei

Burkholderia pseudomallei grown on sheep blood agar for 96 hours

Colony Characteristics

  • White, smooth, creamy colonies on SBA at 24 hrs.
  • Some colonies may be mucoid or become dry and wrinkled at 48-72 hours.


  • Small, straight or slightly curved Gram-negative rod.
  • Bipolar staining.

Catalase Positive
Oxidase Positive
Indole Negative
TSI – Slant: variable, Butt: red
Colistin/Polymixin B – Resistant

Gram-negative Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria

Burkholderia mallei

Gram-negative Burkholderia mallei bacteria, which was grown on a medium of sheep’s blood agar

Colony Characteristics

  • Poor growth at 24 hours.
  • Small, gray, translucent colonies on SBA after 48 hours at 37°C.


  • Gram negative straight or slightly curved coccobacillus or small rod.
  • Arranges in pairs end-to-end in parallel bundles.

Catalase Positive
Oxidase Positive
Indole Negative
TSI - No change (slant: red; Butt: red)
Colistin/Polymixin B – Resistant

Gram negative Burkholderia mallei bacteria on medium of chocolate agar

Any sample that cannot be ruled out by these methods should be forwarded to the NCSLPH.

SLPH Bioterrorism Information



Updated: January 2, 2019