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Siderophores Provoke Extracellular Superoxide Production By Carbon-starving Arthrobacter Strains When Carbon Sources Recover

Xue Ning, Jinsong Liang, Yujie Men, Yangyang Chang, Yaohui Bai, Huijuan Liu, Aijie Wang, Tong Zhang, Jiuhui Qu

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ABSTRACTSuperoxide and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the environment shape microbial communities1 and drive transformation of metals2,3 and inorganic/organic matter4,5. Taxonomically diverse bacteria and phytoplankton can produce extracellular superoxide during laboratory cultivation6-11. Understanding the physiological reasons for extracellular superoxide production by aerobes in the environment is a crucial question yet not fully solved. Here, we showed that iron-starving Arthrobacter sp. QXT-31 (referred to as A. QXT-31 hereafter) secreted a type of siderophore (deferoxamine, DFO), which provoked extracellular superoxide production by carbon-starving A. QXT-31 when carbon sources were recovered. Several other siderophores also demonstrated similar effects. RNA-Seq data hinted that DFO stripped iron from iron-bearing proteins in the electron transfer chain (ETC) of metabolically active A. QXT-31, resulting in electron leakage from the electron-rich (resulting from carbons source metabolism) ETC and superoxide production. Considering that most aerobes secrete siderophore(s)12 and often suffer from carbon starvation in the environment, certain aerobes are expected to produce extracellular superoxide when carbon source(s) recover/fluctuate, thus influencing the microbial community and cycling of many elements. In addition, an artificial iron-chelator (diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid, DTPA) was widely used in microbial superoxide quantification. Our results showed that DTPA provoked superoxide production by A. QXT-31 and highlighted its potential interference in microbial superoxide quantification.