Prodigiosin pigment of Serratia: Introduction, Pigment producing related bacteria and their significance

Pigment of Serratia marcescens

Serratia has a good feature  forming a pink, red or magneta, non- diffusible pigment called prodigiosin. Pigment expresses optimally at room temperature whereas no pigmentation at 37°C.

Picture showing prodigiosin pigment on nutrient agar  is lacking at 37°C whereas expressing at room temperature left to right respectively as shown above.

Pigment Producing Related  Bacteria

Most common  organisms those can produce pigment are Staphylococcus aureus– golden yellow pigment, Pseudomonas aeruginosa– greenish pigment, blue , reddish brown, brown to black, Serratia marcescens– pink or red or magneta color, Micrococcus luteus– lemmon yellow color, Rhodococcus maris-bluish-red, etc.

Microorganisms        Pigments/Molecule                              Color/Appearance


  1. Bacillus                                      Zeaxanthin                                                  Brown
  2. Staphylococcus aureus      Staphyloxanthin, Zeaxanthin           Golden Yellow
  3. Chromobacterium violaceum     Violacein                                         Purple
  4. Serratia marcescens                        Prodigiosin                                    Red
  5. Serratia rubidaea                                       ”                                                     ”
  6. Pseudomonas aeruginosa           Pyocyanin Blue                           Green

Significance of pigment

Pigment is the compound with characteristics of importance to many industries. In the food industry, it uses as additives, color intensifiers, antioxidants, etc. Pigments come in a wide variety of colors, some of which are water-soluble. It is also applicable in textile industry. Nature produces many biocolorants from various resources including plants and microorganisms, which are possible alternatives to synthetic dyes and pigments currently employed. Pigments have certain properties like anti-biotic, anticancer, and immunosuppressive compounds and thus also useful in pharmaceutical industry.

Advantages of bacterial pigments

Bacterial pigments offer the following benefits and advantages as follows:

  1. Increasingly attractive to science because of broad ranging activities.
  2. Easy propagation and wide strain selection.
  3. High versatile and productive over other sources.
  4. Fermentation is inherently faster and more productive compared to any other chemical process.
  5. Easy to manipulate genes.
  6. Simple and fast culturing techniques allowing continuous bioreactor operation.
  7. Structural complexity suits for industrial needs.
  8. Bacterial pigments extracted using simple liquid-liquid extraction technique minimizing operation cos
  9. Cheap substrates used for bulk production.
  10. They are also applicable in agar art with living microbes.


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