Production of pigmented secondary metabolites by Streptomyces colonies. (a) Typical colonial morphologies of Streptomyces isolated from the soil. Colonies often excrete colored pigments, providing a visual recording of secondary metabolite biosynthesis. The chemically diverse compounds represent a vast array of bioactive compounds that often have pharmaceutical applications. (b) A panoramic view of Streptomyces coelicolor colonial morphology. Both peripheral and aerial mycelia develop from the central mass of the colony. Metabolites, including the blue antibiotic actinorhodin, are excreted into the medium and into aqueous droplets on the hydrophobic surface of the colony. Images courtesy of Tobias Kieser, Celia Bruton and Jennifer Tenor.