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Roe, KL, Hogle SL, Barbeau KA.  2013.  Utilization of heme as an iron source by marine alphaproteobacteria in the roseobacter clade. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 79:5753-5762.   10.1128/aem.01562-13   AbstractWebsite

The bioavailability and utilization of porphyrin-bound iron, specifically heme, by marine microorganisms have rarely been examined. This study used Ruegeria sp. strain TrichCH4B as a model organism to study heme acquisition by a member of the Roseobacter clade. Analogs of known heme transporter proteins were found within the Ruegeria sp. TrichCH4B genome. The identified heme uptake and utilization system appears to be functional, as the heme genes were upregulated under iron stress, the bacterium could grow on ferric-porphyrin complexes as the sole iron source, and internalization of(55) Fe from ferric protoporphyrin IX was observed. The potential ability to utilize heme in the Roseobacter clade appears to be common, as half of the isolates in the RoseoBase database were found to have a complete heme uptake system. A degenerate primer set was designed and successfully used to identify the putative heme oxygenase gene (hmus) in the roseobacter heme uptake system from diverse nonenriched marine environments. This study found that members of the Roseobacter clade are capable of utilizing heme as an iron source and that this capability may be present in all types of marine environments. The results of this study add a new perspective to the current picture of iron cycling in marine systems, whereby relatively refractory intracellular pools of heme-bound iron may be taken up quickly and directly reincorporated into living bacteria without previous degradation or the necessity of a siderophore intermediate.

Roe, KL, Barbeau KA.  2014.  Uptake mechanisms for inorganic iron and ferric citrate in Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101. Metallomics. 6:2042-2051.   10.1039/c4mt00026a   AbstractWebsite

Growth of the prevalent marine organism Trichodesmium can be limited by iron in natural and laboratory settings. This study investigated the iron uptake mechanisms that the model organism T. erythraeum IMS101 uses to acquire iron from inorganic iron and iron associated with the weak ligand complex, ferric citrate. IMS101 was observed to employ two different iron uptake mechanisms: superoxide-mediated reduction of inorganic iron in the surrounding milieu and a superoxide-independent uptake system for ferric citrate complexes. While the detailed pathway of ferric citrate utilization remains to be elucidated, transport of iron from this complex appears to involve reduction and/or exchange of the iron out of the complex prior to uptake, either at the outer membrane of the cell or within the periplasmic space. Various iron uptake strategies may allow Trichodesmium to effectively scavenge iron in oligotrophic ocean environments.

Roe, KL, Barbeau K, Mann EL, Haygood MG.  2012.  Acquisition of iron by Trichodesmium and associated bacteria in culture. Environmental Microbiology. 14:1681-1695.   10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02653.x   AbstractWebsite

Trichodesmium colonies contain an abundant microbial consortium that is likely to play a role in nutrient cycling within the colony. This study used laboratory cultures of Trichodesmium and two genome-sequenced strains of bacteria typical of Trichodesmium-associated microbes to develop an understanding of the cycling of iron, a potentially limiting micronutrient, within Trichodesmium colonies. We found that the ferric siderophores desferrioxamine B and aerobactin were not readily bioavailable to Trichodesmium, relative to ferric chloride or citrate-associated iron. In contrast, the representative bacterial strains we studied were able to acquire iron from all of the iron sources, implying that naturally occurring Trichodesmium-associated bacteria may be capable of utilizing a more diverse array of iron sources than Trichodesmium. From the organism-specific uptake data collected in this study, a theoretical Trichodesmium colony was designed to model whole colony iron uptake. The bacteria accounted for most (> 70%) of the iron acquired by the colony, highlighting the importance of determining organism-specific uptake in a complex environment. Our findings suggest that, although they may share the same micro-environment, Trichodesmium and its colony-associated microbial cohort may differ substantially in terms of iron acquisition strategy.