Iron-oxidizing bacteria in marine environments: recent progresses and future directions

  • Hiroko Makita


Iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) refers to a group of bacteria with the ability to exchange and accumulate divalent iron dissolved in water as trivalent iron inside and outside the bacterial cell. Most FeOB belong the largest bacterial phylum, Proteobacteria. Within this phylum, FeOB with varying physiology with regards to their response to oxygen (obligate aerobes, facultative and obligate anaerobes) and pH optimum for proliferation (neutrophiles, moderate and extreme acidophiles) can be found. Although FeOB have been reported from a wide variety of environments, most of them have not been isolated and their biochemical characteristics remain largely unknown. This is especially true for those living in the marine realm, where the properties of FeOB was not known until the isolation of the Zetaproteobacteria Mariprofundus ferrooxydans, first reported in 2007. Since the proposal of Zetaproteobacteria by Emerson et al., the detection and isolation of those microorganisms from the marine environment has greatly escalated. Furthermore, FeOB have also recently been reported from works on ocean drilling and metal corrosion. This review aims to summarize the current state of phylogenetic and physiological diversity in marine FeOB, the significance of their roles in their environments (on both global and local scales), as well as their growing importance and applications in the industry.


Biodiversity Biogeography FeOB Iron-oxidizing bacteria Marine environments Microbial ecology Zetaproteobacteria 



Dr. Chong Chen and Dr. Donald Pan (JAMSTEC) are gratefully acknowledged for their help in improving an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was partially supported by KAKENHI JP26820389 and JP18K04595 to HM.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science & Technology (JAMSTEC)YokosukaJapan

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