A fast and efficient approach was established to identify bacteria possessing the potential to biosynthesize phenazines, which are of special interest regarding their antimicrobial activities. Sequences of phz
E genes, which are part of the phenazine biosynthetic pathway, were used to design one universal primer system and to analyze the ability of bacteria to produce phenazine. Diverse bacteria from different marine habitats and belonging to six major phylogenetic lines were investigated. Bacteria exhibiting phz
E gene fragments affiliated to Firmicutes
, and Actinobacteria
. Thus, these are the first primers for amplifying gene fragments from Firmicutes
. The genetic potential for phenazine production was shown for four type strains belonging to the genera Streptomyces
as well as for 13 environmental isolates from marine habitats. For the first time, the genetic ability of phenazine biosynthesis was verified by analyzing the metabolite pattern of all PCR-positive strains via HPLC-UV/MS. Phenazine production was demonstrated for the type strains known to produce endophenazines, 2-hydroxy-phenazine, phenazine-1-carboxylic acid, phenazine-1,6-dicarboxylic acid, and chlororaphin as well as for members of marine Actinobacteria
. Interestingly, a number of unidentified phenazines possibly represent new phenazine structures.