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Melanin biosynthesis in bacteria, regulation and production perspectives

A Correction to this article was published on 07 January 2020

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The production of black pigments in bacteria was discovered more than a century ago and related to tyrosine metabolism. However, their diverse biological roles and the control of melanin synthesis in different bacteria have only recently been investigated. The broad distribution of these pigments suggests that they have an important role in a variety of organisms. Melanins protect microorganisms from many environmental stress conditions, ranging from ultraviolet radiation and toxic heavy metals to oxidative stress. Melanins can also affect bacterial interactions with other organisms and are important in pathogenesis and survival in many environments. Bacteria produce several types of melanin through dedicated pathways or as a result of enzymatic imbalances in altered metabolic routes. The control of the melanin synthesis in bacteria involves metabolic and transcriptional regulation, but many aspects remain still largely unknown. The diverse properties of melanins have spurred a large number of applications, and recent efforts have been done to produce the pigment at biotechnologically relevant scales.

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  • 07 January 2020

    The original version of this article contains error for some of the authors corrections were not included during correction stage especially for Table 1.


  1. Bartolomeo Bizio was an Italian scientist, one of the precursors of modern microbiology though little is known about him at present. He chemically analyzed the ink of Sepia that he considered of a unique and admirable black color. In words of Bizio “having obtained a black matter so pure and so special that it cannot be compared with any of the known substances, I felt compelled to call it with a name that belonged only to it, naming her melaina” (Bizio 1825).


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The authors thank Esteban Pavan for helpful comments. N.I.L. and M.J.P. are career investigators from CONICET.


This work was partially supported by the University of Buenos Aires, CONICET, and Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica.

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Correspondence to Nancy I. López or M. Julia Pettinari.

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Pavan, M.E., López, N.I. & Pettinari, M.J. Melanin biosynthesis in bacteria, regulation and production perspectives. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 104, 1357–1370 (2020).

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  • Melanin
  • Biopolymer
  • Biomaterial
  • L-DOPA
  • Homogentisate
  • Melanin synthesis control
  • Stress protection