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Hopkinson, BM, Roe KL, Barbeau KA.  2008.  Heme uptake by Microscilla marina and evidence for heme uptake systems in the genomes of diverse marine bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74:6263-6270.   10.1128/aem.00964-08   AbstractWebsite

The ability to acquire diverse and abundant forms of iron would be expected to confer a survival advantage in the marine environment, where iron is scarce. Marine bacteria are known to use siderophores and inorganic iron, but their ability to use heme, an abundant intracellular iron form, has only been examined preliminarily. Microscilla marina, a cultured relative of a bacterial group frequently found on marine particulates, was used as a model organism to examine heme uptake. Searches of the genome revealed analogs to known heme transport proteins, and reverse transcription-quantitative PCR analysis of these genes showed that they were expressed and upregulated under iron stress and during growth on heme. M. marina was found to take up heme-bound iron and could grow on heme as a sole iron source, supporting the genetic evidence for heme transport. Similar putative heme transport components were identified in the genomes of diverse marine bacteria. These systems were found in the genomes of many bacteria thought to be particle associated but were lacking in known free-living organisms (e.g., Pelagibacter ubique and marine cyanobacteria). This distribution of transporters is consistent with the hydrophobic, light-sensitive nature of heme, suggesting that it is primarily available on phytoplankton or detritus or in nutrient-rich environments.