Antimicrobial activity of prodigiosin is attributable to plasma-membrane damage

Rahul K. Suryawanshi, Chandrashekhar D. Patil, Sunil H. Koli, John E. Hallsworth, Satish V. Patil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The bacterial pigment prodigiosin has various biological activities; it is, for instance, an effective antimicrobial. Here, we investigate the primary site targeted by prodigiosin, using the cells of microbial pathogens of humans as model systems: Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus. Inhibitory concentrations of prodigiosin; leakage of intracellular K+ions, amino acids, proteins and sugars; impacts on activities of proteases, catalases and oxidases; and changes in surface appearance of pathogen cells were determined. Prodigiosin was highly inhibitory (30% growth rate reduction of C. albicans, E. coli, S. aureus at 0.3, 100 and 0.18 μg ml−1, respectively); caused leakage of intracellular substances (most severe in S. aureus); was highly inhibitory to each enzyme; and caused changes to S. aureus indicative of cell-surface damage. Collectively, these findings suggest that prodigiosin, log Poctanol–water5.16, is not a toxin but is a hydrophobic stressor able to disrupt the plasma membrane via a chaotropicity-mediated mode-of-action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-577
Number of pages6
JournalNatural Product Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Serratia marcescens
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • competitive interactions
  • membrane leakage
  • microbial pigment prodigiosin
  • mode-of-action

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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