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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Jan;79(1):18-31. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02339-12. Epub 2012 Oct 12.

Isotope-assisted screening for iron-containing metabolites reveals a high degree of diversity among known and unknown siderophores produced by Trichoderma spp.

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Center for Analytical Chemistry, Department for Agrobiotechnology (IFA-Tulln), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria.


Due to low iron availability under environmental conditions, many microorganisms excrete iron-chelating agents (siderophores) to cover their iron demands. A novel screening approach for the detection of siderophores using liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry was developed to study the production of extracellular siderophores of 10 wild-type Trichoderma strains. For annotation of siderophores, an in-house library comprising 422 known microbial siderophores was established. After 96 h of cultivation, 18 different iron chelators were detected. Four of those (dimerum acid, fusigen, coprogen, and ferricrocin) were identified by measuring authentic standards. cis-Fusarinine, fusarinine A and B, and des-diserylglycylferrirhodin were annotated based on high-accuracy mass spectral analysis. In total, at least 10 novel iron-containing metabolites of the hydroxamate type were found. On average Trichoderma spp. produced 12 to 14 siderophores, with 6 common to all species tested. The highest number (15) of siderophores was detected for the most common environmental opportunistic and strongly fungicidic species, Trichoderma harzianum, which, however, did not have any unique compounds. The tropical species T. reesei had the most distinctive pattern, producing one unique siderophore (cis-fusarinine) and three others that were present only in T. harzianum and not in other species. The diversity of siderophores did not directly correlate with the antifungal potential of the species tested. Our data suggest that the high diversity of siderophores produced by Trichoderma spp. might be the result of further modifications of the nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) products and not due to diverse NRPS-encoding genes.

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