Streptomyces coelicolor

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Template:Biorealm genus


Higher order taxa

Domain: Bacteria

Phylum: Actinobacteria

Class: Actinobacteria

Subclass: Actinobacteridae

Order: Actinomycetales

Suborder: Streptomycineae

Family: Streptomycetaceae

Strains: Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2)


Edited by Amy Stapp, student of Rachel Larsen at UCSD.


Genus species: Streptomyces coelicolor

Other Names: Streptothrix coelicolor, Cladothrix coelicolor, Nocardia coelicolor, Actinomyces coelicolor

Edited by Amy Stapp, student of Rachel Larsen at UCSD.

Description and significance

Streptomyces coelicolor, a filamentous, high G-C, gram + bacteria, was first dubbed Streptothrix coelicolor in 1908 by R. Muller after he found it on a potato scab. Later, it became known as Streptomyces coelicolor. Streptomyces coelicolor, like the streptomyces genus in general, live in the soil. Streptomyces are responsible for much of the break down of organic material in the soil as well as the “earthy” smell of soil. They also live in colonies and have structural similarities to fungus. Colonies of Streptomyces coelicolor release pigments that are blue/green in alkali and red in acidic conditions, thereby giving the bacterial colonies those colors under the respective conditions. Other differentiating characteristics of Streptomyces coelicolor are grayish-yellow aerial mycelium with no spirals, smooth spores, and no melanoid pigment. Streptomyces coelicolor are important bacteria and were sequenced because of their “adaptability to environmental stress”, “source of bioactive molecules for medicine and industry”, and “relat[ion] to human pathogens” (“From Mapping to Mining…” John Innes Center). Streptomyces coelicolor has a very similar core genome to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Corynebacterium diphtheriae, as well as some similarity to "Mycobacterium leprae", so it can be used to study these disease causing bacteria. The streptomyces genus is responsible for producing a majority of the antibiotics in use today, as well as some immunosuppressants and anti-tumor agents. Streptomyces coelicolor also has an interesting life-cycle that includes differentiation into aerial mycelium and spore formation.

Edited by Amy Stapp, student of Rachel Larsen at UCSD.

Genome structure

Streptomyces coelicolor has one linear chromosome and two plasmids, one that is linear and one that is circular. The linear chromosome was sequenced from overlapping clones of the species, most of which were cosmids, that did not contain the two plasmids. This chromosome contains 8,667,507 base pairs, and was the largest bacterial genome sequenced at the time. (Since then, larger bacterial genomes have been sequenced.) The origin of replication (oriC) is located in the middle of the chromosome, and the ends of the chromosome contain terminal inverted repeats (TIRs). The 5’ terminal ends have proteins that are covalently bonded to them. Replication occurs in both directions leaving a gap in one strand of the new chromosome, which is patched by DNA synthesis. The chromosome is considered to be grouped into three regions – the core and two arms. The core region comprises about half of the chromosome and contains the essential genes for the survival of the organism, like “cell division, DNA replication, transcription, translation and amino-acid biosynthesis” (Bentley, Nature). The two arm regions are different lengths, one about 1.5 MB and the other 2.3 MB long, and they code for nonessential functions like "secondary metabolites, hydrolytic exoenzymes, the conservons (conserved operons) and 'gas vesicle' proteins" (Bentley, Nature). The SPC1 linear plasmid is 365,023 base pairs long, and is involved coding for some regulator proteins including three Sigma factors and proteins found on spore surfaces among other functions. The 31,317 base pair, circular plasmid, SPC2, has a stability region, replication origin, and transfer region. It has a relatively low copy number.

Edited by Amy Stapp, student of Rachel Larsen at UCSD.

Cell structure and metabolism

Describe any interesting features and/or cell structures; how it gains energy; what important molecules it produces.

Edited by Neena Patel, student of Rachel Larsen at UCSD.


Describe any interactions with other organisms (included eukaryotes), contributions to the environment, effect on environment, etc.


How does this organism cause disease? Human, animal, plant hosts? Virulence factors, as well as patient symptoms.

Edited by Neena Patel, student of Rachel Larsen at UCSD.

Application to Biotechnology

Does this organism produce any useful compounds or enzymes? What are they and how are they used?

Current Research

Research is being done to determine how Streptomyces coelicolor use signal transduction pathways to sense changes in their highly variable soil environments, which signals antibiotic and spore production. Link to Researcher's Web-page

The bacterial development of Streptomyces coelicolor is also being studied to determine “the role of specific RNA polymerase holoenzymes controlling development and stress response, global characterisation of spore maturation and germination, cytoskeletal proteins, and chromosome organization during hyphal growth” (Streptomyces, UEA). Link to Researcher's Web-Page

Streptomyces coelicolor is currently the subject of research at the University of Warwick due to its ability to produce prodiginines. These compounds show promise in targeting cancer cells, and a synthetic counterpart to the compound made naturally by Streptomyces coelicolor is in clinical trials as of November 2006.


"Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2)". NCBI Taxonomy Browser. 29 April 2007. NCBI.

Conn, Jean E. “The Pigment Production of Actinomyces coelicolor and A. violaceus-ruber”. Journal of Bacteriology. 1943. Volume 46. p. 133-149. Link to Article

“From Mapping to Mining the Streptomyces Genome”. John Innes Centre Website. 2001. Link to Article

Thompson, Charles J., Dorris Fink, and Liem D. Nguyen. “Principles of Microbial Alchemy: Insights from the Streptomyces coelicolor Genome Sequence”. Genome Biology 3.7. (2002) Link to Article on PubMed

Kutzner, Hans J and Selman A. Waksman. “Streptomyces coelicolor Muller and Streptomyces violaceoruber Waksman and Curtis, Two Distinctly Different Organisms.” Journal of Bacteriology 78.4 (1959) p. 528-538. Link to Article

Bentley, S.D., K. F. Chater, A.-M. Cerdeño-Tárraga, G. L. Challis , N. R. Thomson, K. D. James, D. E. Harris, M. A. Quail, H. Kieser, D. Harper, A. Bateman, S. Brown, G. Chandra, C. W. Chen, M. Collins, A. Cronin, A. Fraser, A. Goble, J. Hidalgo, T. Hornsby, S. Howarth, C.-H. Huang, T. Kieser, L. Larke, L. Murphy, K. Oliver, S. O'Neil, E. Rabbinowitsch, M.-A. Rajandream, K. Rutherford, S. Rutter, K. Seeger, D. Saunders, S. Sharp, R. Squares, S. Squares, K. Taylor, T. Warren, A. Wietzorrek, J. Woodward, B. G. Barrell, J. Parkhill and D. A. Hopwood. "Complete Genome Sequence of the Model Actinomycete Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2)." Nature 417. (2002) p. 141-147. Link to Article

Bentley, S. D., S. Brown, L. D. Murphy, D. E. Harris, M. A. Quail, J. Parkhill, B. G. Barrell, J. R. McCormick, R. I. Santamaria, R. Losick, M. Yamasaki, H. Kinashi, C. W. Chen, G. Chandra, D. Jakimowicz, H. M. Kieser, T. Kieser and K. F. Chater. "SPC1, a 356023 bp Linear Plasmid Adapted to the Ecology and Developmental Biology of It's Host, Streptomyces coelicolor." Molecular Microbiology 51.6 (2004) p. 1615-1628.

Haug, Iris, Anke Weissenborn, Dirk Brolle, Stephen Bentley, Tobias Kieser, and Josef Altenbuchner. “Streptomyces Coelicolor A3(2) Plasmid SCP2*: Deductions from the Complete Sequence”. Microbiology 149 (2003). p. 505-513. Link to Article

“Streptomyces: Research.” 30 March 2007. UEA Norwich Website. University of East Anglia. 30 April 2007.

Chu, Wai Lang. “Researchers Use Bacteria to Make Anti-Cancer Drugs.” Drug Researcher Website. 30 April 2007. Link to Web-Page

Edited by student of Rachel Larsen and Kit Pogliano