New roles for bacterial siderophores in metal transport and tolerance


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Siderophores are chelators with extremely strong affinity for ferric iron and are best known for their capacity to feed microorganisms with this metal. Despite their preference for iron, they can also chelate numerous other metals with variable affinities. There is also increasing evidence that metals other than iron can activate the production of siderophores by bacteria, thereby implicating siderophores in the homeostasis of metals other than iron and especially heavy metal tolerance. This article considers this new concept that siderophores play a role in protecting bacteria against metal toxicity and discusses the possible contribution of these chelators to the transport of biological relevant metals in addition to iron.