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Keywords:

  • diatom, desferrioxamine, iron, phytoplankton, reduction, Thalassiosira oceanica, transport

Thalassiosira oceanica (Hustedt) Hasle et Heimdal (clone 1003) attained rapid rates of growth in low Fe seawater containing the siderophore ferrioxamine B (FeDFB) as the sole Fe source. Short-term rates of Fe uptake were 109 times faster than those predicted from the equilibrium concentration of inorganic Fe, suggesting that FeDFB was the substrate for the Fe transport system. An extracellular reduction step, mediated by a cell surface reductase, preceded Fe transport from FeDFB and was induced under Fe limitation. The half-saturation constant for the reduction was 0.68 μM. Iron reduction rates were two times faster than uptake rates, so that the activities of the reductase and the transporter were tightly coupled. The rates of Fe reduction of a number of Fe chelators, including synthetic organic ligands (nitrilotriacetate, diethylenetriaminepentaacetate, and EDTA) and fungal siderophores (desferrioxamine B and desferrioxamine E), were inversely proportional to the ratio of the stability constants of their Fe(III) and Fe(II) complexes and varied by a factor of two times, like the redox potentials of the Fe complexes. Platinum (II), a known inhibitor of Fe reductase activity, appeared to reduce the rates of Fe uptake from FeDFB but not from inorganic complexes. The results suggested that reoxidation of Fe(II) produced by reduction may be a necessary part of the Fe internalization reaction. Ferric reductase could be relevant to phytoplankton nutrition in the open sea where organic Fe complexes dominate the dissolved speciation and where the concentration of inorganic Fe is limiting.