From a tomb in Upper Egypt we isolated a strain of that was capable of producing brown pigment when grown in a minimal salts medium containing tyrosine. We present evidence that this pigment is a pyomelanin, a compound that is known to assist in the survival of some micro-organisms in adverse environments. We tested type strains of which were also able to produce this pigment under similar conditions. Inhibitors of the DHN and DOPA melanin pathways were unable to inhibit the formation of the pigment. Fourier transform IR analysis indicated that this brown pigment is similar to pyomelanin. Pyrolysis-GC/MS revealed the presence of phenolic compounds. Using LC/MS, homogentisic acid, the monomeric precursor of pyomelanin, was detected in supernatants of cultures growing in tyrosine medium but not in cultures lacking tyrosine. Partial regions of the genes encoding two enzymes in the homogentisic acid pathway of tyrosine degradation were amplified. Data from reverse-transcription PCR demonstrated that transcription was increased in cultures grown in tyrosine medium, suggesting that tyrosine induced the transcription.


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