The main pigment of the dormant Mycobacterium smegmatis is porphyrin

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Upon transition of Mycobacterium smegmatis into the dormant state, accumulation of a dark brown fluorescent pigment was observed. This pigment gave bright red fluorescence in both cells and the culture medium. Based on 1H-NMR, MALDI and UV spectra, the fluorescent compounds, extracted from the culture medium as well as from the dormant cells, were concluded to be a mixture of free coproporphyrin III and uroporphyrin III and their corresponding methyl esters. A possible significance of porphyrin pigment accumulation in the dormant cells is discussed.

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