Chromobacterium violaceum

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Chromobacterium violaceum
Blood agar plate culture of C. violaceum. Image from the CDC.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Betaproteobacteria
Order: Neisseriales
Family: Neisseriaceae
Genus: Chromobacterium
Species: C. violaceum
Binomial name
Chromobacterium violaceum
(Schröter 1872)

Chromobacterium violaceum is a Gram-negative, facultative anaerobic, non-sporing coccobacillus. It is part of the normal flora of water and soil of tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It produces a natural antibiotic called violacein, which may be useful for the treatment of colon and other cancers.[1] It grows readily on nutrient agar, producing distinctive smooth low convex colonies with a dark violet metallic sheen (due to violacein production). Its full genome was published in 2003.[2] It has the ability to break down tarballs.[3]


C. violaceum ferments glucose, trehalose, N-acetylglucosamine and gluconate but not L-arabinose, D-galactose, or D-maltose. In many cases can show high level resistance to a range of antibiotics.[4]

Medical significance[edit]

C. violaceum rarely infects humans, but when it does it causes skin lesions, sepsis, and liver abscesses that may be fatal.[5] Care must be taken because Burkholderia pseudomallei is commonly misidentified as C. violaceum by many common identification methods.[6][7] The two are readily distinguished because B. pseudomallei produces large wrinkled colonies, whereas C. violaceum produces a distinctive violet pigment.

C. violaceum produces a number of natural antibiotics:

It has been described as a cause of infection in gibbons.[8]


Infection caused by C. violaceum is rare, therefore there are no clinical trials evaluating different treatments. Antibiotics that have been used to successfully treat C. violaceum include pefloxacin,[9] ciprofloxacin, amikacin,[10] and co-trimoxazole.[11] Other antibiotics that appear to be effective in vitro include chloramphenicol and tetracycline.[12] For theoretical reasons, infection would not be expected to respond to penicillins, cephalosporins, or aztreonam, although carbapenems like meropenem or imipenem may possibly work.[13]


The complete genome was sequenced and the results were published in 2003. C. violaceum type strain ATCC 12472 was found to have 4,751,080 base pairs with a G + C content of 64.83% and 4,431 ORFs.[2]


  1. ^ Kodach, LL, Bos, CL, Durán, N, Peppelenbosch, MP, Ferreira, CV, Hardwick, JC (2006). "Violacein synergistically increases 5-fluorouracil cytotoxicity, induces apoptosis and inhibits Akt-mediated signal transduction in human colorectal cancer cells". Carcinogenesis 27 (3): 508–16. doi:10.1093/carcin/bgi307. PMID 16344270. 
  2. ^ a b Brazilian National Genome Project Consortium (2003). "The complete genome sequence of Chromobacterium violaceum reveals remarkable and exploitable bacterial adaptability". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100 (20): 11660–5. doi:10.1073/pnas.1832124100. PMC 208814. PMID 14500782. 
  3. ^ Itah, A. Y., Essien, J. P. (2005). "Growth Profile and Hydrocarbonoclastic Potential of Microorganisms Isolated from Tarballs in the Bight of Bonny, Nigeria". World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 21 (6–7): 1317–1322. doi:10.1007/s11274-004-6694-z. 
  4. ^ Emerging Infectious Diseases 11 (9). September 2005 |url= missing title (help). 
  5. ^ Sneath PH, Whelan JP, Bhagwan Singh R, Edwards D. (1953). "Fatal infection by Chromobacterium violaceum". Lancet 265 (6780): 276–7. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(53)91132-5. PMID 13085740. 
  6. ^ Inglis TJ, Chiang D, Lee GS, Chor-Kiang L (1998). "Potential misidentification of Burkholderia pseudomallei by API 20NE". Pathology 30 (1): 62–64. doi:10.1080/00313029800169685. PMID 9534210. 
  7. ^ Lowe P, Engler C, Norton R (2002). "Comparison of Automated and Nonautomated Systems for Identification of Burkholderia pseudomallei". J Clin Microbiol 40 (12): 4625–4627. doi:10.1128/JCM.40.12.4625-4627.2002. PMC 154629. PMID 12454163. 
  8. ^ Groves MG, Strauss JM, Abbas J, Davis CE (1969). "Natural infections of gibbons with a bacterium producing violet pigment (Chromobacterium violaceum)". J Infect Dis 120 (5): 605–610. doi:10.1093/infdis/120.5.605. PMID 5388196. 
  9. ^ Lee J, Kim JS, Nahm CH, Choi JW, Pai SH, Moon KH, Chong Y (1 June 1999). "Two Cases of Chromobacterium violaceum Infection after Injury in a Subtropical Region". J Clin Microbiol 37 (6): 2068–2070. PMC 85035. PMID 10325383. 
  10. ^ Ray P, Sharma J, Marak RSK et al. (2004). "Chromobacterium violaceum septicaemia from north India". Indian J Med Res 120 (6): 523–526. PMID 15654137. 
  11. ^ Moore C, Lane J, Stephens J (2001). "Successful treatment of an infant with Chromobacterium violaceum sepsis". Clin Infect Dis 32 (6): E107–110. doi:10.1086/319356. PMID 11247733. 
  12. ^ Martinez R, Velludo MA, Santos VR, Dinamarco PV (2000). "Chromobacterium violaceum infection in Brazil. A case report". Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 42 (2): 111–113. PMID 10810326. 
  13. ^ Midani S, Rathore M (1998). "Chromobacterium violaceum infection". South Med J 91 (5): 464–466. doi:10.1097/00007611-199805000-00011. PMID 9598856.