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Barbeau, KA, Moffett JW.  1998.  Dissolution of Iron Oxides by Phagotrophic Protists:  Using a Novel Method To Quantify Reaction Rates. Environmental Science & Technology. 32:2969-2975.: American Chemical Society   10.1021/es9802549   AbstractWebsite

In previous work, we have reported the dissolution of iron oxides within the acidic food vacuoles of marine protozoan grazers as evidence of a novel mechanism for the conversion of refractory iron solids to more labile forms in oxic surface waters. This paper expands upon those initial studies and presents a new technique to study the reaction of iron oxides in seawater, based on the synthesis of colloidal ferrihydrite containing an inert tracer. Measuring the accumulation of the tracer in the dissolved phase enables the determination of the rate and extent of iron oxide reaction, even for kinetically slow processes and regardless of the fate of iron in the system. The validity of the method as a means of following the reaction of iron oxides in seawater is shown here in a series of co-dissolution studies and in several photochemical kinetics experiments. In laboratory studies of the dissolution of colloidal ferrihydrite by protozoan grazers, the inert tracer method enables an improved estimate of the rate of protozoan-mediated iron oxide dissolution, confirming our previous results and providing a useful tool for further studies of phagotrophy as a reaction pathway for refractory iron.

Barbeau, K, Rue EL, Bruland KW, Butler A.  2001.  Photochemical cycling of iron in the surface ocean mediated by microbial iron(III)-binding ligands. Nature. 413:409-413.   10.1038/35096545   AbstractWebsite

Iron is a limiting nutrient for primary production in large areas of the oceans(1-4). Dissolved iron(III) in the upper oceans occurs almost entirely in the form of complexes with strong organic ligands(5-7) presumed to be of biological origin(8,9). Although the importance of organic ligands to aquatic iron cycling is becoming clear, the mechanism by which they are involved in this process remains uncertain. Here we report observations of photochemical reactions involving Fe(III) bound to siderophores-high-affinity iron(III) ligands produced by bacteria to facilitate iron acquisition(10-12). We show that photolysis of Fe(III)-siderophore complexes leads to the formation of lower-affinity Fe(III) ligands and the reduction of Fe(III), increasing the availability of siderophore-bound iron for uptake by planktonic assemblages. These photochemical reactions are mediated by the alpha -hydroxy acid moiety, a group which has generally been found to be present in the marine siderophores that have been characterized(13-15). We suggest that Fe(III)-binding ligands can enhance the photolytic production of reactive iron species in the euphotic zone and so influence iron availability in aquatic systems.

Barbeau, K, Moffett JW, Caron DA, Croot PL, Erdner DL.  1996.  Role of protozoan grazing in relieving iron limitation of phytoplankton. Nature. 380:61-64.   10.1038/380061a0   AbstractWebsite

RECENT evidence indicates that iron is a limiting factor in primary production in some areas of the oceans(1,2). In sea water, iron is largely present in the form of particulate and colloidal phases which are apparently unavailable for uptake by phytoplankton(3-5). Several mechanisms have been proposed whereby non-reactive iron may be converted into more labile forms (for example, thermal dissolution(6), photochemical reactions(7,8) and ligand complexation(9)). Here we report that digestion of colloidal iron in the acidic food vacuoles of protozoan grazers may be a mechanism for the generation of 'bioavailable' iron from refractory iron phases. We have demonstrated several grazer-mediated effects on colloidal ferrihydrite, including a decrease in colloid size, an increase in colloid lability as determined by competitive ligand-exchange techniques, and an increase in the bioavailability of colloids to iron-limited diatoms. These results indicate that protozoan grazers may significantly enhance the supply of iron to marine phytoplankton from terrestrial sources.