- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
Scope of this review
Metal ions have critical functions in biological processes and provided important biological feedbacks with the environment throughout earth history. For example, Fe, Ni, Mg, Mn, Mo, Cu, W, V, and Zn play an essential role as catalysts in key compounds involved in respiration, photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and many other enzymatic processes (da Silva and Williams 2001). It is likely that some of these metal bearing enzymes evolved early in the history of life. However, the availability of metal ions has changed dramatically in the last 3.8 billion years due to changes in atmospheric and marine chemistry (Canfield 1998; Anbar and Knoll 2002; Saito et al. 2003). Homeostasis of metal ions (i.e., the maintenance of an approximately constant intracellular concentration) became a major problem over geologic time scales and in contemporary environments.
Iron is an essential nutrient for almost all known organisms due to its important role in important enzymatic processes. While iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth crust, its low bioavailability limits primary production in various terrestrial and marine environments. The limitation of primary production in important ecosystems has significant implications for the global carbon cycle and the world climate. This review focuses on geochemical aspects of biological iron acquisition in iron limited “high nutrient low chlorophyll” (HNLC) ocean regions. The purpose of this review is to discuss the effect of biogenic iron specific ligands, the so called siderophores, on the iron speciation, and the dissolution of iron-bearing minerals in the presence of siderophores in these marine systems.
Important iron sources for algal growth in HNLC ocean regions are the upward mixing of iron rich subsurface waters to the euphotic zone and the atmospheric deposition of dust particles on the sea surface followed by the dissolution of iron from these particles into the surface …