Correlation Between Pigmentation and Antifouling Compounds Produced by Pseudoalteromonas Tunicata

Environ Microbiol. 2002 Aug;4(8):433-42. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-2920.2002.00322.x.


Pseudoalteromonas tunicata is a marine bacterium with the ability to prevent biofouling by the production of at least four target-specific compounds. In addition to these antifouling compounds, P. tunicata produces at least two pigments. These include a yellow and a purple pigment which, when combined, give the bacterium a dark green appearance. Transposon mutagenesis was used in this study to investigate the correlation between pigment production and the expression of specific antifouling phenotypes in P. tunicata. Four different categories of pigmentation mutants were isolated including yellow, dark-purple, light-purple and white mutants. The mutants were tested for their ability to inhibit the settlement of invertebrate larvae, algal spore germination, fungal growth and bacterial growth. The results showed that the yellow-pigmented mutants retained full antifouling activity, whereas the purple and white mutant strains had lost some, or all, of their ability to inhibit target organisms. This demonstrates that the loss of antifouling capabilities correlates with the loss of yellow pigment and not purple pigment. Sequencing and analysis of the genes disrupted by the transposons in these mutants identified a number of potential biosynthetic enzymes and transport systems involved in the synthesis and regulation of pigmentation and fouling inhibitors in this organism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Fungi / growth & development
  • Gammaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Gammaproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Phenotype
  • Pigments, Biological / analysis*
  • Pigments, Biological / biosynthesis


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Pigments, Biological