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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 Dec;67(12):5444-52.

Iron stress in open-ocean cyanobacteria (Synechococcus, Trichodesmium, and Crocosphaera spp.): identification of the IdiA protein.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA.


Cyanobacteria are prominent constituents of the marine biosphere that account for a significant percentage of oceanic primary productivity. In an effort to resolve how open-ocean cyanobacteria persist in regions where the Fe concentration is thought to be limiting their productivity, we performed a number of Fe stress experiments on axenic cultures of marine Synechococcus spp., Crocosphaera sp., and Trichodesmium sp. Through this work, we determined that all of these marine cyanobacteria mount adaptive responses to Fe stress, which resulted in the induction and/or repression of several proteins. We have identified one of the Fe stress-induced proteins as an IdiA homologue. Genomic observations and laboratory data presented herein from open-ocean Synechococcus spp. are consistent with IdiA having a role in cellular Fe scavenging. Our data indicate that IdiA may make an excellent marker for Fe stress in open-ocean cyanobacterial field populations. By determining how these microorganisms respond to Fe stress, we will gain insight into how and when this important trace element can limit their growth in situ. This knowledge will greatly increase our understanding of how marine Fe cycling impacts oceanic processes, such as carbon and nitrogen fixation.

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