It has recently been ascertained that the coloration of certain sponges is due to the interaction of an oxydizing ferment, tyrosinase, upon certain colourless chromogenic substances.
Cuenot, in order to explain certain features in the hereditary transmission of coat colour in mice, postulated the hypothesis that the grey colour of the wild mouse (which is known to be a compound of black, chocolate and yellow pigments) may be due either to the interaction of a single ferment and three chromogens, or vice versa, to one chromogenic substance and three ferments.
We may conceive, then, that a pigmented animal owes its colour to the power that certain tissues of its body possess to secrete both tyrosinases and chromogenic substances.
Considerable advances in our knowledge of the various chromogenic bacteria have been made by the studies of Beyerinck, Lankester, Engelmann, Ewart and others, and have assumed exceptional importance owing to the discovery that Bacteriopurpurin - the red colouring matter contained in certain sulphur bacteria - absorbs certain rays of solar energy, and enables the organism to utilize the energy for its own life-purposes.
In the case of these red-purple bacteria the colouring matter is contained in the protoplasm of the cell, but in most chromogenic bacteria it occurs as excreted pigment on and between the cells, or is formed by their action in the medium.