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J Appl Microbiol. 2010 Jun;108(6):1889-902. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2009.04590.x. Epub 2009 Oct 15.

Carotenoids found in Bacillus.

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1
School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK.

Abstract

AIMS:

To identify the diversity of pigmented aerobic spore formers found in the environment and to characterize the chemical nature of this pigmentation.

MATERIALS AND RESULTS:

Sampling of heat-resistant bacterial counts from soil, sea water and the human gastrointestinal tract. Phylogenetic profiling using analysis of 16S rRNA sequences to define species. Pigment profiling using high-performance liquid chromatography-photo diode array analysis.

CONCLUSIONS:

The most commonly found pigments were yellow, orange and pink. Isolates were nearly always members of the Bacillus genus and in most cases were related with known species such as Bacillus marisflavi, Bacillus indicus, Bacillus firmus, Bacillus altitudinis and Bacillus safensis. Three types of carotenoids were found with absorption maxima at 455, 467 and 492 nm, corresponding to the visible colours yellow, orange and pink, respectively. Although the presence of other carotenoids cannot be ruled out, these three predominant carotenoids appear to account for the pigments obtained in most pigmented bacilli, and our analysis reveals the existence of a C30 biosynthetic pathway. Interestingly, we report the presence of a water-soluble pigment that may also be a carotenoid. The function of carotenoids is photoprotection, and carotenoid-containing spores exhibited significantly higher levels of resistance to UV radiation than non-carotenoid-containing Bacillus species.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

This study demonstrates that pigmented bacilli are ubiquitous and contain new carotenoid biosynthetic pathways that may have industrial importance.

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