Issue 5, 2015

An extended siderophore suite from Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 revealed by LC-ICPMS-ESIMS


Siderophores are thought to play an important role in iron cycling in the ocean, but relatively few marine siderophores have been identified. Sensitive, high throughput methods hold promise for expediting the discovery and characterization of new siderophores produced by marine microbes. We developed a methodology for siderophore characterization that combines liquid chromatography (LC) inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) with high resolution electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESIMS). To demonstrate this approach, we investigated siderophore production by the marine cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002. Three hydroxamate siderophores, synechobactin A–C, have been previously isolated and characterized from this strain. These compounds consist of an iron binding head group attached to a fatty acid side chain of variable length (C12, C10, and C8 respectively). In this study, we detected six iron-containing compounds in Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 media by LC-ICPMS. To identify the molecular ions of these siderophores, we aligned the chromatographic retention times of peaks from the LC-ICPMS chromatogram with features detected from LC-ESIMS spectra using an algorithm designed to recognize metal isotope patterns. Three of these compounds corresponded to synechobactins A (614 m/z), B (586 m/z), and C (558 m/z). The MS2 spectra of these compounds revealed diagnostic synechobactin fragmentation patterns which were used to confirm the identity of the three unknown compounds (600, 628, and 642 m/z) as new members of the synechobactin suite with side chain lengths of 11, 13, and 14 carbons. These results demonstrate the potential of combined LCMS techniques for the identification of novel iron–organic complexes.

Graphical abstract: An extended siderophore suite from Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 revealed by LC-ICPMS-ESIMS

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
05 Jan 2015
12 Mar 2015
First published
12 Mar 2015

Metallomics, 2015,7, 877-884

Author version available