Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 200, Issue 7, pp 989–999 | Cite as

Prodigiosin pigment of Serratia marcescens is associated with increased biomass production

  • Pryce L. Haddix
  • Robert M. Q. Shanks
Original Paper


Serratia marcescens is a gram-negative, facultatively-anaerobic bacterium and opportunistic pathogen which produces the red pigment prodigiosin. We employed both batch culture and chemostat growth methods to investigate prodigiosin function in the producing organism. Pigmentation correlated with an increased rate of ATP production during population lag phase. Results with a lacZ transcriptional fusion to the prodigiosin (pig) biosynthetic operon revealed that operon transcription is activated by low cellular levels of ATP at high cell density. Furthermore, these data enabled estimation of the ATP per cell minimum value at which the operon is induced. Pigmented cells were found to accumulate ATP more rapidly and to multiply more quickly than non-pigmented cells during the high density growth phase. Finally, results with both batch and chemostat culture revealed that pigmented cells grow to approximately twice the biomass yield as non-pigmented S. marcescens bacteria. Prodigiosin production may, therefore, provide a growth advantage at ambient temperatures.


Serratia marcescens Prodigiosin ATP 



The authors wish to thank the following persons for valuable technical support: Kara Lehner, Mallory O’Connor Anderson, Joshua Davidson, Nathan Doehring, James Hause, Leah Sawyer, Forrest Wentworth, Eric York, Zachary Tatom and Sherilyn Gitchel. PLH was supported by the Research Council of Auburn University Montgomery through the equipment and research Grant-in-aid programs as well as by the AUM Biology Department. RMQS was supported in part by the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh, unrestricted funds to prevent blindness, and the National Institutes of Health Grants EY027331 and EY08098.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors know of no conflict of interest in the performance of or reporting of this work.

Supplementary material

203_2018_1508_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (55 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 54 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyAuburn University MontgomeryMontgomeryUSA
  2. 2.The Charles T. Campbell Laboratory, Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of Pittsburgh Eye Center and School of MedicinePittsburghUSA

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