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Siderophore production in phylogenetically diverse plant-associated fungi: do they play a role in helping fungi to tolerate plant secondary metabolites?

Cellular and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Adriel Mlera Brianna Ruiz

Jeremy Jonas

Siderophores are a diverse family of iron-chelating compounds that bind insoluble iron from the environment which evolved as a mechanism to cope with iron limitation and are produced by numerous species of bacteria, fungi, and plants (Pecoraro et al. 2021). However, the ability of fungi such as fungal endophytes to produce siderophores remains relatively understudied. Recent studies have shown fungal endophytes can detoxify polyphenols, which could suggest the capacity for siderophore production (Nickerson et al, 2023). Here, we investigated the siderophore production capabilities of 23 fungal endophytes species with varying abilities to detoxify polyphenols through a modified Chrome Azurol S (CAS) assay that detects siderophore production through the color change from blue to orange if the CAS-iron complex is chelated by siderophores (Schwyn and Neilands 1987, Andrews et al 2019). We found that the majority of fungal endophyte species were able to produce siderophores. In addition, we found a correlation between the class of fungal isolates and the rate of siderophore production. Our study helps expand knowledge of fungal siderophore production and function in endophytes and assesses whether there is a relationship between siderophore production and the ability of fungi to grow on phenolic compounds. The production of siderophores in fungal endophytes presents possible biotechnological applications of fungal endophytes such as targeted drug delivery (Varma and Chincholkar, 2007) and toxic metal bioremediation (Swayambhu et al 2021).

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