Recent Advances in Synthetic, Industrial and Biological Applications of Violacein and Its Heterologous Production

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021 Nov 28;31(11):1465-1480. doi: 10.4014/jmb.2107.07045.


Violacein, a purple pigment first isolated from a gram-negative coccobacillus Chromobacterium violaceum, has gained extensive research interest in recent years due to its huge potential in the pharmaceutic area and industry. In this review, we summarize the latest research advances concerning this pigment, which include (1) fundamental studies of its biosynthetic pathway, (2) production of violacein by native producers, apart from C. violaceum, (3) metabolic engineering for improved production in heterologous hosts such as Escherichia coli, Citrobacter freundii, Corynebacterium glutamicum, and Yarrowia lipolytica, (4) biological/pharmaceutical and industrial properties, (5) and applications in synthetic biology. Due to the intrinsic properties of violacein and the intermediates during its biosynthesis, the prospective research has huge potential to move this pigment into real clinical and industrial applications.

Keywords: Violacein; biological applications; heterologous production; industrial applications; metabolic engineering.; synthetic biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Chromobacterium / chemistry*
  • Citrobacter freundii
  • Corynebacterium glutamicum
  • Escherichia coli
  • Indoles / chemistry*
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Industrial Microbiology
  • Metabolic Engineering*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Yarrowia


  • Indoles
  • violacein

Supplementary concepts

  • Chromobacterium violaceum