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Hogle, SL, Barbeau KA, Gledhill M.  2014.  Heme in the marine environment: from cells to the iron cycle. Metallomics. 6:1107-1120.   10.1039/c4mt00031e   AbstractWebsite

Hemes are iron containing heterocyclic molecules important in many cellular processes. In the marine environment, hemes participate as enzymatic cofactors in biogeochemically significant processes like photosynthesis, respiration, and nitrate assimilation. Further, hemoproteins, hemes, and their analogs appear to be iron sources for some marine bacterioplankton under certain conditions. Current oceanographic analytical methodologies allow for the extraction and measurement of heme b from marine material, and a handful of studies have begun to examine the distribution of heme b in ocean basins. The study of heme in the marine environment is still in its infancy, but some trends can be gleaned from the work that has been published so far. In this review, we summarize what is known or might be inferred about the roles of heme in marine microbes as well as the few studies on heme in the marine environment that have been conducted to date. We conclude by presenting some future questions and challenges for the field.

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.