Document Type


Publication Date


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Journal of Bacteriology


Department of Biological Sciences


Under iron-limiting conditions, many bacteria secrete ferric iron-specific ligands, generically termed siderophores, to aid in the sequestering and transport of iron. One strain of the nitrogen-fixing soybean symbiont Bradyrhizobium japonicum, 61A152, was shown to produce a siderophore when 20 B. japonicum strains were screened with all six chemical assays commonly used to detect such production. Production by strain 61A152 was detected via the chrome azurol S assay, a general test for siderophores which is independent of siderophore structure. The iron-chelating compound was neither a catechol nor a hydroxamate and was ninhydrin negative. It was determined to be citric acid via a combination of thin-layer chromatography and high-voltage paper electrophoresis; this identification was verified by a specific enzymatic assay for citric acid. The inverse correlation which was observed between citric acid release and the iron content of the medium suggested that ferric citrate could serve as an iron source. This was confirmed via growth and transport assays. Exogenously added ferric citrate could be used to overcome iron starvation, and iron-deficient cells actively transported radiolabeled ferric citrate. These results, taken together, indicate a role for ferric citrate in the iron nutrition of this strain, which has been shown to be an efficient nitrogen-fixing strain on a variety of soybean cultivars.



Original Citation

Guerinot ML, Meidl EJ, Plessner O. Citrate as a siderophore in Bradyrhizobium japonicum. J Bacteriol. 1990;172(6):3298-3303. doi:10.1128/jb.172.6.3298-3303.1990

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