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Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2009;1:43-63.

Chemistry of marine ligands and siderophores.

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1
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106-9510, USA. jvraspir@chem.ucsb.edu

Abstract

Marine microorganisms are presented with unique challenges to obtain essential metal ions required to survive and thrive in the ocean. The production of organic ligands to complex transition metal ions is one strategy to both facilitate uptake of specific metals, such as iron, and to mitigate the potential toxic effects of other metal ions, such as copper. A number of important trace metal ions are complexed by organic ligands in seawater, including iron, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, and cadmium, thus defining the speciation of these metal ions in the ocean. In the case of iron, siderophores have been identified and structurally characterized. Siderophores are low molecular weight iron-binding ligands produced by marine bacteria. Although progress has been made toward the identity of in situ iron-binding ligands, few compounds have been identified that coordinate the other trace metals. Deciphering the chemical structures and production stimuli of naturally produced organic ligands and the organisms they come from is fundamental to understanding metal speciation and bioavailability. The current evidence for marine ligands, with an emphasis on siderophores, and discussion of the importance and implications of metal-binding ligands in controlling metal speciation and cycling within the world's oceans are presented.

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