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Appl Microbiol. 1972 Apr;23(4):704-9.

Induction of prodigiosin biosynthesis after shift-down in temperature of nonproliferating cells of Serratia marcescens.


Nonpigmented bacteria obtained by growth of Serratia marcescens at 38 C synthesized prodigiosin at 25 C if certain individual amino acids were added to cultures of nonproliferating cells. In order of effectiveness, the amino acids were: DL-histidine, L-proline, L-hydroxyproline, DL-alanine, L-alanine, DL-aspartic acid, D-alanine, DL-proline, L-serine, L-ornithine, L-glutamic acid, and D-proline. DL-Histidine at its optimal concentration (20 mg/ml) induced formation of prodigiosin (198 mug of prodigiosin per mg of bacterial protein) after incubation of cultures for 54 hr. Lower concentrations (10 mg/ml) of the other amino acids usually were optimum but less prodigiosin was synthesized, and the maximal amount of pigment occurred between 36 and 48 hr. DL-Methionine was not effective alone but at a low concentration (40 mug/ml) enhanced and accelerated biosynthesis of prodigiosin in the presence of other suitable amino acids. Addition of 2 mg of L-proline per ml at 0 hr induced formation of only 30 mug of prodigiosin after incubation for 42 hr, but addition at 36 hr of 5 mg more of L-proline per ml increased synthesis to 120 mug at 42 hr. Again, DL-methionine markedly augmented prodigiosin biosynthesis in these cultures. Synthesis of prodigiosin ceased if cultures were shifted from 25 to 38 C. Prodigiosin biosynthesis by the nonproliferating cells was maximum when cultures were aerated, the amount of bacterial protein was about 2.0 mg/ml, and amino acids were added at 0 hr. Bacteria synthesized prodigiosin most efficiently when they were harvested from aerated cultures grown at 38 C for 24 hr in a complete medium in a fermentor.

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