ISSN: 0973-7510

E-ISSN: 2581-690X

Research Article | Open Access
Fredrick Tiria1,2, Erick Odoyo3, Martin Georges3, Andrew Nyerere1 and Lillian Musila3
1Department of Medical Microbiology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi P.O. Box 62000-00200, Kenya.
2State Department for the Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs, Kisumu P.O. Box 1084 – 40100, Kenya.
3Kenya Medical Research Institute/United States Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa, Village Market, Nairobi P.O. Box 606-00621, Kenya.
Article Number: 8602 | © The Author(s). 2023
J Pure Appl Microbiol. 2023;17(4):2194-2204.
Received: 03 April 2023 | Accepted: 01 September 2023 | Published online: 01 November 2023
Issue online: December 2023

Klebsiella pneumoniae is an opportunistic pathogen and a major cause of nosocomial infections. Phenotypic analysis of virulence and molecular typing of virulence-associated genes are powerful approaches to understanding Klebsiella pneumoniae infection biology. This study subjected 102 clinical Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates to virulence gene screening and phenotypic analysis of serum resistance, biofilm formation, and hypermucoviscosity. The virulence genes mrkD, ybtS, wcaJ, entD, and rmpA had a prevalence of 95.1%, 30.4%, 27.5%, 22.5%, and 0.98%, respectively. 54.9%, 36.3%, and 8.8% were serum resistant, intermediate, and susceptible, respectively. There was no significant correlation between the presence of mrkD, ybtS, wcaJ, entD, and rmpA genes and serum non-susceptibility. 53.9%, 22.5%, 6.9%, and 16.7% were strong, moderate, weak, and non-biofilm formers, respectively. The biofilm-forming phenotype was significantly correlated with mrkD (P= 0.000098) and ybtS (P=0.032) gene presence. In addition, 11.8 % of the isolates had the hypermucoviscous phenotype indicating hypervirulence. All of these hypervirulent isolates were positive for the mrkD gene and were significantly associated with the presence of the wcaJ gene (P = 0.000085). These results indicate a positive association between virulence genes with biofilm formation and hypervirulence. In conclusion, Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates circulating in Kenya are predominantly serum non-susceptible and biofilm formers. mrkD, ybtS, and wcaJ genes were identified as key genes influencing biofilm formation and hypervirulence and would be good targets for vaccine development to reduce the severity of Klebsiella pneumoniae infections in Kenya.


Hypervirulence, Mucoviscosity, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Serum Resistance, Biofilm, Enterobacterales, Vaccine, Phenotype

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© The Author(s) 2023. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License which permits unrestricted use, sharing, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.