Ecological selection of siderophore-producing microbial taxa in response to heavy metal contamination
van Veen, EM
Wiley for Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
© 2017 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by CNRS and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Some microbial public goods can provide both individual and community-wide benefits, and are open to exploitation by non-producing species. One such example is the production of metal-detoxifying siderophores. Here, we investigate whether conflicting selection pressures on siderophore production by heavy metals - a detoxifying effect of siderophores, and exploitation of this detoxifying effect - result in a net increase or decrease. We show that the proportion of siderophore-producing taxa increases along a natural heavy metal gradient. A causal link between metal contamination and siderophore production was subsequently demonstrated in a microcosm experiment in compost, in which we observed changes in community composition towards taxa that produce relatively more siderophores following copper contamination. We confirmed the selective benefit of siderophores by showing that taxa producing large amounts of siderophore suffered less growth inhibition in toxic copper. Our results suggest that ecological selection will favour siderophore-mediated decontamination, with important consequences for potential remediation strategies.
This work was funded by the AXA Research Fund and BBSRC (BB/K003240) and NERC (NE/P001130) research councils to AB. SOB was funded by a “Bridging the Gaps” award and PhD scholarship from the University of Exeter. NT was funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement (656647). AML was supported by Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowships within the EU Seventh Framework Programme. AB acknowledges support from the Royal Society.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Published online 21 November 2017
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