Carotenoid production and phenotypic variation in Azospirillum brasilense

Gal Reem Brenholtz, Dafna Tamir-Ariel, Yaacov Okon, Saul Burdman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We assessed the occurrence of phenotypic variation in Azospirillum brasilense strains Sp7, Cd, Sp245, Az39 and phv2 during growth in rich media, screening for variants altered in colony pigmentation or extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) production. Previous studies showed that EPS-overproducing variants of Sp7 appear frequently following starvation or growth in minimal medium. In contrast, no such variants were detected during growth in rich media in the tested strains except for few variants of phv2. Regarding alteration in colony pigmentation (from pink to white in strain Cd and from white to pink in the others), strain Sp7 showed a relatively high frequency of variation (0.009–0.026%). Strain Cd showed a lower frequency of alteration in pigmentation (0–0.008%), and this type of variation was not detected in the other strains. In A. brasilense, carotenoid synthesis is controlled by two RpoE sigma factors and their cognate ChrR anti-sigma factors, the latter acting as negative regulators of carotenoid synthesis. Here, all tested (n = 28) pink variants of Sp7 carried mutations in one of the anti-sigma factor genes, chrR1. Our findings indicate that, in A. brasilense, phenotypic variation is strain- and environment-dependent and support the central role of ChrR1 in regulation of carotenoid production.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)493-501
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Institut Pasteur


  • Anti-sigma factor
  • Azospirillum
  • Carotenoids
  • Extracellular polysaccharides
  • Phase variation
  • Phenotypic variation


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