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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2012 Aug;333(2):101-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2012.02614.x. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Effect of abiotic factors on the unique glitter-like iridescence of Cellulophaga lytica.

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  • 1UMR 7766 CNRS, LIENSS Littoral Environnement & Sociétés, Université de La Rochelle, La Rochelle, France.


Iridescence is a property of structural color that has been poorly documented in the prokaryotic kingdom. We recently isolated a Cellulophaga lytica strain that exhibits, on solid media, a unique intense glitter-like iridescence in reflection. Iridescence of C. lytica CECT 8139 was optically and physically characterized but physiological significance of the phenomenon was not. In the present work, we investigated the effect of key abiotic factors on C. lytica's growth and iridescence. Special attention was paid to conditions that mimic rocky shore ecosystem, the natural biotope of C. lytica. We found that C. lytica's iridescence required the presence of seawater. The phenomenon was not influenced by light exposure or plate orientation during growth. Cellulophaga lytica's iridescence occurred under a wide range of culture conditions notably under psychrophilic, halophilic, and hydric stress conditions. Changes in colonies' colors (blue, violet, red, yellow, and green) were linked to cell density. These data indicate that iridescence is induced under conditions that mimic the natural biotope of C. lytica.

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