Prodigiosin (PG) has been reported to have various biological activities. With the aim of increasing Serratia marcescens TKU011 PG production on squid pen powder (SPP)-containing medium, the effects of phosphate and ferrous ion supplementation, autoclave treatment, and aeration were studied. Autoclave treatment showed positive results for PG productivity (2.48 mg/mL), which increased 2.5-fold when the organism was incubated in 50 mL of 40-min autoclaved medium in a baffle-based flask (250 mL) containing 1.5% SPP at 30 °C for 1 day and then at 25 °C for 2 additional days. Furthermore, the use of pigments including PG and the food colorants Allura Red AC (R40) and Tartrazine (Y4) as insecticides was also investigated. The lethal concentrations causing 50% Drosophila larval mortality (LC50) of PG, Y4, and R40 using a 5-d exposure period were 230, 449, and 30000 ppm, respectively. The results indicated that the biopigment PG and the food colorant Y4 were potentially toxic to Drosophila larvae.
PG productivity under mass production from S. marcescens TKU011 was already up to 2.48 mg/mL. PG and food colorant (Tartrazine, Y4) have insecticidal properties that could be useful for developing novel biopesticides.