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Appl Environ Microbiol. May 1987; 53(5): 917–922.
PMCID: PMC203786

Induction of siderophore activity in Anabaena spp. and its moderation of copper toxicity.


Growth of Anabaena sp. strain 7120 (in the absence of chelators or added iron) was inhibited by the addition of 2.1 to 6.5 microM copper and was abolished by copper concentration of 10 microM or higher. When the copper was chelated to schizokinen (the siderophore produced by this organism in response to iron starvation), the toxic effects were eliminated. Analysis of culture filtrates showed that the cupric schizokinen remains in the medium, thereby lowering the amount of copper taken up by the cells. Although this organism actively transports ferric schizokinen, it apparently does not recognize the cupric complex. Thus, Anabaena sp. is protected from copper toxicity under conditions in which siderophore is being produced. For cells grown in low iron, the accumulation of extracellular schizokinen was observed to parallel cell growth and continue well into stationary phase. The actual iron status of the organism was monitored by using iron uptake velocity as an assay. Cultures grown on 0.1 microM added iron were found to be severely iron limited upon reaching stationary phase, thus explaining the continued production of schizokinen. These data show that the siderophore system in Anabaena spp. has developed primarily as a response to iron starvation and that additional functions such as alleviation of copper toxicity or allelopathic inhibition of other algal species are merely secondary benefits.

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Selected References

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