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Updated by darianaidu on Jun 01, 2020
Headline for Dietzia natronolimnaea.
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Dietzia natronolimnaea.

Dietzia natronolimnaea is an aerobic, organotrophic and alkaliphilic bacterium. This bacterium is pathogenic to humans and is also gram positive. This bacterium produces the carotenoid pigment canthaxanthin. This pigment is used to treat a rare genetic condition which results in severe photo-sensitivity in humans, this disease is called erythropoietic protoporphyria. The pigment canthaxanthin is naturally occurring and can be synthetically produced in a laboratory. The pigment potentially has other health benefits since it is a carotenoid and has antioxidant properties.


A phase contrast micorgraph image of the bacterium Dietzia natronolimnaea.

A phase contrast micorgraph image of the bacterium Dietzia natronolimnaea.

Dietzia natronolimnaea is a rod shaped and gram positive. It produces the pigment canthaxanthin which falls under a class of pigments called carotenoids or keto-carotenoids.

Canthaxanthin - International Association of Color Manufacturers

Canthaxinthin has a beautiful reddish-orange colour that is prized for altering the colours of some foods such as various meats, salmon and the yolks of eggs to give them a striking orange colour.

Astaxanthin and canthaxanthin are potent antioxidants in a membrane model. - PubMed - NCBI

Canthaxanthin is notably a powerful antioxidant. This characteristic is useful since it can bind to free radicals especially those involving oxygen and prevent harmful runaway chemical reactions.

Pills for Tanning: Do They Work and Are They Safe?

Canthaxanthin is used in tanning pills for cosmetics. The prolonged use of these pills is not suggested since it is yet to be approved by several organisations including the FDA. Demand is present for this kind of supplement by bodybuilders and models to imitate a sun tan without the harmful ultra violet light exposure.

Antioxidant activity of dietary canthaxanthin. - PubMed - NCBI

Canthaxanthin due to its antioxidant properties may be able to inhibit carcinogenesis and prevent certain types of cancers.

For Some Species, You Really Are What You Eat | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

A flamingos pink colour in the wild is due to its consumption of shrimp that make the birds appear to be a lovely pink colour. In captivity since these shrimp are both expensive and usually unavailable their diets are supplemented with canthaxanthin to maintain this pink colour.

Treatment of erythropoietic protoporphyria with beta-carotene. - PubMed - NCBI

Canthaxanthin has found use in treating the symptoms of a rare genetic disease called erythropoietic protoporphyria or EPP. Those afflicted with the disease have their skin irritated by exposure to sunlight. The treatment using the pigment is found to be more effective in high doses and in younger patients.

Canthaxanthin. - PubMed - NCBI

The pigment canthaxanthin is also reported to be used to treat a skin condition called vitilgo which results in discoloration in patches of skin. The regions of discoloration usually lack the pigment melanin which gives humans the various colours of skin.