Fortschritte der Chemie organischer Naturstoffe / Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products, Vol. 92

Volume 92 of the series Fortschritte der Chemie organischer Naturstoffe / Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products pp 1-75


Microbial Siderophores

  • Herbert BudzikiewiczAffiliated withInstitut für Organische Chemie, Universität zu Köln Email author 

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Iron is of great importance for many metabolic processes since the redox potential between its two valence states Fe2+ and Fe3+ lies within the range of physiological processes. Actually, iron is not a rare element, it is fourth in abundance in the earth crust, but it is not readily available for microorganisms. In the soil ferric oxide hydrates are formed at pH values around seven and the concentration of free Fe3+ is at best 10−17 mol/dm3 while about 10−6 mol/dm3 would be needed. In living organisms iron is usually strongly bound to peptidic substances such as transferrins. To increase the supply of soluble iron microorganisms other than those living in an acidic habitat may circumvent the problem by reduction of Fe3+ to Fe2+ (182), which seems to be of major importance for marine phytoplankton (151); see also amphiphilic marine bacteria (Sect.2.8) and Fe2+ binding ligands (Sect. 7) below. An important alternative is the production of Fe3+ chelating compounds, so-called siderophores. Siderophores are secondary metabolites with masses below 2,000 Da and a high affinity to Fe3+. Small iron-siderophore complexes can enter the cell via unspecific porins, larger ones need a transport system that recognizes the ferri-siderophore at the cell surface. In the cell, iron is released mostly by reduction to the less strongly bound Fe2+ state (137), and the free siderophore is re-exported (“shuttle mechanism”); for a modified shuttle system see pyoverdins (Sect. 2.1) and amonabactins (Sect. 2.7). Rarely the siderophore is degraded in the periplasmatic space as, e.g. enterobactin (Sect. 2.7). Alternatively Fe3+ is transferred at the cell surface from the ferri-siderophore to a trans-membrane transport system (“taxi mechanism”). A probably archaic and unspecific variety of the taxi mechanism comprises the reduction of Fe3+ at the cell surface (see ferrichrome A, Sect. 2.6 (99, 105)). The terms “shuttle” and “taxi mechanism” were coined by Raymond and Carrano (296).