Volume 24, Number 3—March 2018
In 1957, Piero Sensi and colleagues isolated a new bacterium, Streptomyces mediterranei (now Amycolatopsis rifamycinica) (Figure), from a soil sample from a pine forest in France. Material extracted from fermentation broths of A. rifamycinica contained microbiologically active substances that, as a group, were nicknamed Rififi. Rififi (French slang for “trouble”) was a 1955 French gangster film that was popular at the time and became the root of the name “rifamycin” for this group of antimicrobial agents. (Similarly, matamycin was originally nicknamed Mata Hari.) Rifampin (also known as rifampicin) is the N-amino-Nʹ-methylpiperazine (AMP) derivative of rifamycin.
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