Petrobactin, a siderophore produced by Alteromonas, mediates community iron acquisition in the global ocean
Manck LE, Park J, Tully BJ, Poire AM, Bundy RM, Dupont CL, Barbeau KA
It is now widely accepted that siderophores play a role in marine iron biogeochemical cycling. However, the mechanisms by which siderophores affect the availability of iron from specific sources and the resulting significance of these processes on iron biogeochemical cycling as a whole have remained largely untested. In this study, we develop a model system for testing the effects of siderophore production on iron bioavailability using the marine copiotroph Alteromonas macleodii ATCC 27126. Through the generation of the knockout cell line ΔasbB::km, which lacks siderophore biosynthetic capabilities, we demonstrate that the production of the siderophore petrobactin enables the acquisition of iron from mineral sources and weaker iron-ligand complexes. Notably, the utilization of lithogenic iron, such as that from atmospheric dust, indicates a significant role for siderophores in the incorporation of new iron into marine systems. We have also detected petrobactin, a photoreactive siderophore, directly from seawater in the mid-latitudes of the North Pacific and have identified the biosynthetic pathway for petrobactin in bacterial metagenome-assembled genomes widely distributed across the global ocean. Together, these results improve our mechanistic understanding of the role of siderophore production in iron biogeochemical cycling in the marine environment wherein iron speciation, bioavailability, and residence time can be directly influenced by microbial activities.