Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Whole genome sequencing. Respiratory tract infection. Neuromuscular diseases. Biofilm. Tracheostomy.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is a gram-negative bacillus well known for colonizing human respiratory airways and causing opportunistic infections. Children with neuromuscular disease (NMD) including cerebral palsy (CP) and severe upper airway obstruction who get infected with PA, their chances of experiencing a severe illness, being admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit, and extended or repeated hospital stays increase dramatically. These patients often need a surgical procedure called tracheostomy which act as a channel for microbes to enter lower respiratory tract and increase infections, despite its well documented impact as an opportunistic pathogen comprehensive investigation into the diversity of PA in such vulnerable populations is limited. To fill this gap in knowledge we perform whole genome sequencing (WGS) and phenotypic analysis of 40 PA isolates from the respiratory tract of this susceptible population with and without tracheotomies. Pangenome analysis showed highly variable genome content with 16,212 total genes of which 2326 are core genes. MLST revealed diverse sequence types (STs) among the studied population with 21 known and 10 new STs. Genotypic analysis revealed moderate variations in the antimicrobial resistance determinants and virulence factors among all isolates. In total 8 serogroups were identified, with serogroups O6 and O11 accounting for 70% of all the isolates. Genotypic diversity was observed in overall population however comparative analysis among tracheostomized and non-tracheostomized patient groups showed significant similarity which aligns with the phenotypic analysis revealing significant similarity with minor differences in biofilm formation, motility, hemolysis production, and pigment production. Last, we explored putative healthcare transmission and identified three potential transmission events. These findings provide insight into how WGS along with phenotypic analysis can help us better understand population dynamics, epidemiology, virulence profile and antibiotic resistance profile of PA contributing to respiratory infections which has valuable therapeutic implications for epidemiology and disease management.

Completion Date




Committee Chair

Azarian, Taj


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program






Release Date

June 2025

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)

Campus Location

Health Sciences Campus

Restricted to the UCF community until June 2025; it will then be open access.