Siderophore-promoted dissolution of smectite by fluorescent Pseudomonas



Siderophores are organic chelators produced by microorganisms to fulfil their iron requirements. Siderophore-promoted dissolution of iron-bearing minerals has been clearly documented for some siderophores, but few studies have addressed metabolizing siderophore-producing bacteria. We investigated iron acquisition from clays by fluorescent Pseudomonads, bacteria that are ubiquitous in the environment. We focused on the interactions between smectite and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium producing two structurally different siderophores: pyoverdine and pyochelin. The presence of smectite in iron-limited growth media promoted planktonic growth of P. aeruginosa and biofilm surrounding the smectite aggregates. Chemical analysis of the culture media indicated increases in the dissolved silicon, iron and aluminium concentrations following smectite supplementation. The use of P. aeruginosa mutants unable to produce either one or both of the two siderophores indicated that pyoverdine, the siderophore with the higher affinity for iron, was involved in iron and aluminium solubilization by the wild-type strain. However, in the absence of pyoverdine, pyochelin was also able to solubilize iron but with a twofold lower efficiency. In conclusion, pyoverdine and pyochelin, two structurally different siderophores, can solubilize structural iron from smectite and thereby make it available for bacterial growth.