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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Bacterial response to siderophore and quorum-sensing chemical signals in the seawater microbial community

Le Luo Guan* and Kei Kamino

Author Affiliations

Marine Biotechnology Institute, Shimizu Laboratories, Shimizu City, Shizuoka, 424-0037, Japan

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BMC Microbiology 2001, 1:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-1-27

Published: 23 October 2001



Oceans are iron-deficient and nutrient-poor environments. These conditions impart limitations on our understanding of and our ability to identify microorganisms from the marine environment. However, less of knowledge on the influence of siderophores and N-acyl homoserinelactone as interspecies communication signals on the bacterial diversity of seawater has been understood.


In the presence of 0.1 nM of the commercial siderophore desferroixamine and the known quorum-sensing chemical signals, synthetic N-(3-oxo)-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (0.1 nM) or N-octanoylhomoserine lactone (0.1 nM), the total numbers of bacteria in S9905 seawater increased nearly three-fold, and nearly eight-fold in S0011 seawater as determined by DAPI staining and counting, and increased three-fold by counting colony forming units in S9905 seawater after 7 days of incubation. Similar bacterial changes in bacterial abundance were observed when high concentration of desferroixamine (1 μM) and each of homoserine lactone compounds (1 μM) were presented in seawater samples. The number of cultivable bacterial species observed was also found to increase from 3 (without addition) to 8 (with additions) including three unknown species which were identified by phylogenetic analysis of 16S rDNA sequences. The growth of unknown species was found to be related to their siderophore production with response to the addition of desferroixamine and N-acyl homoserine lactones under iron-limited conditions.


Artificial addition of siderophores and HSLs may be a possible method to aid in the identification and isolation of marine bacterial species which are thought to be unknown.